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Review findings on the role of dietary patterns in preventing depression are inconsistent, possibly due to variation in assessment of dietary exposure and depression. We studied the association between dietary patterns and depressive symptoms in six population-based cohorts and meta-analysed the findings using a standardised approach that defined dietary exposure, depression assessment and covariates.
Included were cross-sectional data from 23 026 participants in six cohorts: InCHIANTI (Italy), LASA, NESDA, HELIUS (the Netherlands), ALSWH (Australia) and Whitehall II (UK). Analysis of incidence was based on three cohorts with repeated measures of depressive symptoms at 5–6 years of follow-up in 10 721 participants: Whitehall II, InCHIANTI, ALSWH. Three a priori dietary patterns, Mediterranean diet score (MDS), Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010), and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were investigated in relation to depressive symptoms. Analyses at the cohort-level adjusted for a fixed set of confounders, meta-analysis used a random-effects model.
Cross-sectional and prospective analyses showed statistically significant inverse associations of the three dietary patterns with depressive symptoms (continuous and dichotomous). In cross-sectional analysis, the association of diet with depressive symptoms using a cut-off yielded an adjusted OR of 0.87 (95% confidence interval 0.84–0.91) for MDS, 0.93 (0.88–0.98) for AHEI-2010, and 0.94 (0.87–1.01) for DASH. Similar associations were observed prospectively: 0.88 (0.80–0.96) for MDS; 0.95 (0.84–1.06) for AHEI-2010; 0.90 (0.84–0.97) for DASH.
Population-scale observational evidence indicates that adults following a healthy dietary pattern have fewer depressive symptoms and lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.
To identify a high-sugar (HS) dietary pattern, a high-saturated-fat (HF) dietary pattern and a combined high-sugar and high-saturated-fat (HSHF) dietary pattern and to explore if these dietary patterns are associated with depressive symptoms.
We used data from the HELIUS (Healthy Life in an Urban Setting) study and included 4969 individuals aged 18–70 years. Diet was assessed using four ethnic-specific FFQ. Dietary patterns were derived using reduced rank regression with mono- and disaccharides, saturated fat and total fat as response variables. The nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was used to assess depressive symptoms by using continuous scores and depressed mood (identified using the cut-off point: PHQ-9 sum score ≥10).
Three dietary patterns were identified; an HSHF dietary pattern (including chocolates, red meat, added sugars, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, creamy sauces), an HS dietary pattern (including sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, fruit (juices)) and an HF dietary pattern (including high-fat dairy products, butter). When comparing extreme quartiles, consumption of an HSHF dietary pattern was associated with more depressive symptoms (Q1 v. Q4: β=0·18, 95 % CI 0·07, 0·30, P=0·001) and with higher odds of depressed mood (Q1 v. Q4: OR=2·36, 95 % CI 1·19, 4·66, P=0·014). No associations were found between consumption of the remaining dietary patterns and depressive symptoms.
Higher consumption of an HSHF dietary pattern is associated with more depressive symptoms and with depressed mood. Our findings reinforce the idea that the focus should be on dietary patterns that are high in both sugar and saturated fat.
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