Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age – Source: British Journal of Psychiatry, Nov 2009

Background: Studies of diet and depression have focused primarily on individual nutrients.

Aims: To examine the association between dietary patterns and depression using an overall diet approach.

Method: Analyses were carried on data from 3,486 participants (26.2% women, mean age 55.6 years) from the Whitehall II prospective cohort, in which two dietary patterns were identified:

• 'Whole food' (heavily loaded by vegetables, fruits and fish)

• And 'processed food' (heavily loaded by sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products).

Self-reported depression was assessed 5 years later using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression (CES-D) scale.

Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, participants in the highest tertile [third] of the whole food pattern had lower odds of CES-D depression (OR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.56-0.99) than those in the lowest tertile.

In contrast, high consumption of processed food was associated with an increased odds of CES-D depression (OR = 1.58, 95% CI 1.11-2.23).

[Note: an odds ratio (OR) of 1.0 would indicate no difference in risk of depression between two groups. The OR of 1.58 indicates that participants whose dietary pattern included more processed, less whole, foods were 58% more likely to experience depression within just 5 years.]

Conclusions: In middle-aged participants, a processed food dietary pattern is a risk factor for CES-D depression 5 years later, whereas a whole food pattern is protective.

Source: British Journal of Psychiatry, Nov 2009;195(5):408-13. PMID: 19880930, by Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, Marmot MG, Kivimaki M, Singh-Manoux A. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, UK. [E-mail:]

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