Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-4wks4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-31T13:29:14.675Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

The concept of well-being: relevance to nutrition research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2007

Andrew P. Smith*
Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 63 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AS, UK
*Corresponding author: Professor Andrew P. Smith, fax: +44 29 20 874758, email,
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]


HTML view is not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

The aim of this paper is to discuss issues that fall within the general concept of well-being, with special emphasis on approaches that have been used in studies of nutrition and behaviour. Following this, two specific studies are described in detail, the first examining high-fibre breakfast cereals and the second investigating effects of inulin. Studies of nutrition and well-being can be categorised in a number of ways. One method involves examining acute effects of nutrition on mood and cognitive functioning. Another method has been to examine cross-sectional associations between dietary habits and questionnaire measures of reported health. Examples are given showing that regular consumption of a high-fibre diet is associated with better-reported physical and mental health. The problem with such correlational studies is that it is impossible to infer causality. Intervention studies are necessary to achieve this and some examples of this approach are given. In the first study reported here, we examined whether consumption of high-fibre breakfast cereal led to an increase in energy. Such an effect was observed and plausible biological mechanisms underlying such results are described. A similar methodology has recently been used to examine the effects of inulin. In this case the results showed no negative side-effects of taking inulin but there were no beneficial effects of inulin on measures of well-being (both subjective reports and objective measures). Possible reasons for these effects are discussed.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005


Benton, D & Sargent, J (1992) Breakfast, blood glucose and memory. Biol Psychol 33, 207210.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fredholm, BB, Battig, K, Holmen, J, Nehlig, A & Zvartau, EE (1999) Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacol Rev 91, 83133.Google Scholar
Lieberman, HR (1992) Caffeine In Handbook of Human Performance vol. 2 pp. 49–72 [Smith, AP and Jones, DM, editors]. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Smith, AP (1998) Breakfast and mental health. Int J Food Sci Nutr 49, 397402.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP (1999) Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health. Int J Food Sci Nutr 50, 445449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, AP (2003) Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health by young adults. Nutr Neurosci 6, 5961.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP & Miles, C (1986a) Acute effects of meals, noise and nightwork. Br J Psychol 77, 377389.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP & Miles, C (1986b) Effects of lunch on cognitive vigilance tasks. Ergonomics 29, 12511261.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP & Rees, G (2000) Stress, breakfast cereal consumption and susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections. Nutr Neurosci 3, 339343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, AP & Rich, N (1998) Effects of consumption of snacks on simulated driving. Percept Mot Skills 87, 817818.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP, Rusted, JM, Eaton-Williams, P, Savory, M & Leathwood, P (1990) Effects of caffeine given before and after lunch on sustained attention. Neuropsychobiology 23, 160163.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP, Brockman, P, Flynn, R, Maben, A & Thomas, M (1993a) An investigation of the effects of coffee on alertness and performance during the day and night. Neuropsychobiology 27, 217233.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP, Kendrick, AM & Maben, AL (1993b) Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and after lunch. Neuropsychobiology 26, 198204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, AP, Kendrick, AM, Maben, AL & Salmon, J (1994) Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance, mood and cardiovascular functioning. Appetite 22, 3955.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP, Thomas, M, Perry, K & Whitney, H (1997a) Caffeine and the common cold. J Psychopharmacol 11, 319324.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, AP, Whitney, H, Thomas, M, Perry, K & Brockman, P (1997b) Effects of caffeine and noise on mood, performance and cardiovascular functioning. Hum Psychopharmacol 12, 2734.3.0.CO;2-Y>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, A, Johal, SS, Wadsworth, E, Davey, Smith G & Peters, T (2000) The Scale of Occupational Stress: the Bristol Stress and Health at Work Study. HSE Books. Report 265/2000.Google Scholar
Smith, AP, Bazzoni, C, Beale, J, Elliott-Smith, J & Tiley, M (2001) High fibre breakfast cereals reduce fatigue. Appetite 37, 249250.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed