The British Journal of Psychiatry
Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age
Tasnime N. Akbaraly, Eric J. Brunner, Jane E. Ferrie, Michael G. Marmot, Mika Kivimaki, Archana Singh-Manoux

Abstract

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 3486 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 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).

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.

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