Investigation into the diets and nutritional knowledge of young men with depression: The MENDDS survey.

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 2020, 78
Issue Date:
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OBJECTIVES:Currently 1 million Australians are living with depression each year, with an average of one in eight men experiencing the disorder. Studies have shown that individual nutrients, fruit and vegetable intake, polyphenols, and whole dietary patterns can have a positive effect on depressive symptoms. In particular, the Mediterranean diet has shown promising preliminary findings. The aim of this study was to assess the diet quality and knowledge of young men in relation to depressive symptoms. METHODS:This was a cross-sectional online survey. We collected data from 384 young Australian men between 18 and 25 y of age with diagnosed depression. Pearson's χ2 test was used for ordinal categorical variables. RESULTS:Dietary intake among this population was poor. Discretionary foods were consumed two to three times per week and included pizza (41%), fried potatoes such as French fries or hash browns (29%), and chocolate (25%). Roughly half of participants (47%) reported never consuming whole grains or legumes and only 9% said they eat vegetables twice or more per day. Healthy eating is perceived as both time consuming (82%) and expensive (70%). One-third (32%) of participants perceived their diet as having a major effect and 29% a slight effect on their mental health, with only 5% reporting that diet has no effect on their mental health. However, the majority of participants (84%) believe it is important or very important to eat an overall healthy diet and 77% reported being willing to change their diet if it would improve their symptoms of depression. CONCLUSIONS:These results highlighted the relatively poor diets of this population. This group of young men would greatly benefit from a quality diet such as the Mediterranean diet. The reported willingness to change their diets is encouraging and supports the viability of dietary intervention trials in this demographic. The dietary data presented in this study can be used to develop targeted interventions aimed at improving the diets of young men with depression.
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