OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between diet quality and depressive symptomology amongst a community-based sample of Fijian adolescents.
METHODS: Participants included 7,237 adolescents (52.6% girls; mean age 15.6 years) at baseline (2005) and 2,948 (56% girls; mean age 17.4 years) at follow-up (2007/2008), from the Pacific Obesity Prevention in Communities Project. Intervention schools (n = 7) were selected from Nasinu, near Suva on the main Fijian island Viti Levu, and comparison schools (n = 11) were chosen from towns on the opposite, west side of the island. A dietary questionnaire was used to measure diet quality. Factor analysis clustered dietary variables into two unique and independent factors, referred to as healthy diet quality and unhealthy diet quality. Depressive symptomology was assessed via the emotional subscale of the Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory. Both measures were self-reported and self-administered. Multiple linear regression was used to test cross-sectional associations (at baseline and follow-up) between diet quality and depressive symptomology. Variables controlled for included gender, age, ethnicity, study condition, BMI-z scores, and physical activity.
FINDINGS: Strong, positive dose-response associations between healthy diet and high emotional scores (lower depressive symptomology) were found in cross-sectional analyses at baseline and follow-up, among boys and girls. No association was found between emotional health and unhealthy diet.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that cross-sectional relationships exist between a high quality diet during adolescence and less depressive symptoms, however more evidence is required to determine if these two variables are linked causally. Trial population health strategies that use dietary interventions as a mechanism for mental health promotion provide an opportunity to further test these associations. If this is indeed a true relationship, these forms of interventions have the potential to be inexpensive and have substantial reach, especially in Low and Middle Income Countries.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000345381.
2016. Vol. 11, no 8