Impulsivity and compulsivity and the link with nutrition, lifestyle and the socio-economic environment

Specific Challenge

Impulsivity (including hyperactivity, attention deficit, unplanned reactions, aggressiveness and other antisocial behaviours) and compulsivity disorders (including addictive behaviour) lead to individuals no longer being able to integrate into their social environment. As such, these disorders are a growing threat to individuals, families and societies as a whole. Antisocial and addictive behaviour can have a significant negative impact, e.g. in schools, at work, in families, in homes for the elderly, in prisons and in public places.

Many factors that may influence such behaviours are still not fully understood. These include the risks and protective factors, the extent to which inherited factors and nutritional habits may play a role, and the impact of these factors on the gut-microbiota-brain axis.

Recent studies have suggested that a change in diet and lifestyle can result in a significant reduction in impulsive, compulsive, aggressive or other antisocial behaviours.


Proposals shall include new insights into the influence of diet, including sugar, fat and protein content and metabolism, vitamin and mineral balance, amino-acids and food additives, and their impact on the gut-microbiota-brain axis. They shall also look at the influence of lifestyle, socio-economic environment and variations in food culture on these behavioural disorders in various population groups (including children, teenagers and the elderly) and suggest possible solutions. In addition, consideration shall be given to the influence of these factors in the development of addictive behaviour. The gender dimension of these behavioural disorders must be taken into account and gender differences must be clearly investigated. An innovative research approach, including linked social innovation aspects, is needed and many stakeholders from a variety of disciplines shall be involved. This call does not envisage pharmaceutical treatment.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 12 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

In order to find ways to improve impulsive, compulsive, aggressive or other antisocial behaviours through a change in diet and lifestyle, proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts could be achieved:

  • Foster social innovation and public health by bridging knowledge gaps in the understanding of the influence of nutrition, lifestyle and the socio-economic environment, and their complex interdependencies, on the occurrence of impulsivity and compulsivity disorders.
  • Deliver a list of scientific evidence-based remedial actions for this challenge that can be used by policy makers, politicians, practitioners, stakeholder groups, employers and the families or individuals concerned.
Application date
Social sciences
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology