Title : Association of macro and micro nutrient intake with depression and anxiety symptoms among adolescent boys and girls (13-15 years) studying in public schools of Delhi
Background: Data on prevalence of mental health disorders indicates that 4.5% and 3% of the Indian population is suffering from depression and anxiety respectively. Research suggest that a poor quality diet (lacking in macro and micronutrients) may lead to deficiencies that are associated with depression and anxiety disorders.
Aim: The present research was designed to study the prevalence & association of depression & anxiety with macro and micronutrient intake among adolescent boys & girls (aged 13-15 years) studying in public schools of Delhi.
Methods: 546 adolescents participated in this cross-sectional study (selected from public schools in Delhi). For the assessment of depression and anxiety symptoms and dietary micronutrient deficiencies Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; administered to the parents) and 24 hour recall and food frequency questionnaire (administered to the subjects) were used respectively. Adolescent Micronutrient Quality Index (AMQI) was further used to assess the quality of the diets.
Results: Prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms was 33.5% and 27.47% respectively. In males, higher consumption of energy was significantly associated with higher mean depression (p = <0.001) and anxiety scores (p = <0.001), whereas higher consumption of proteins was significantly associated with lower mean depression and anxiety scores. Also, lower consumption of micronutrients like iron and magnesium was significantly associated with lower depression and anxiety scores. In females, lower consumption of energy (<RDA) proteins, fat, iron was significantly associated with higher mean depression (p = <0.001) and anxiety scores (p = <0.001).
Conclusions: This study highlights the association of mental health with quality and quantity of macro and micro nutrients consumed by adolescents. It will also serve as a strategic tool for mental health prevention & management policies designed for adolescents.
Audience Take Away Notes:
Given that diet is a modifiable risk factor that has been linked to mental health problems, it is important that more research in this relatively new and growing area of research is continued. Future research on overall diet and mental health should consider possible gender differences and distinguish between different mental health outcomes as well as between healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns and also examine changes in diet over time to determine if change in diet leads to subsequent changes in mental health. Furthermore, a better understanding of the time period over which dietary exposures have an effect on mental health is needed. It is also important that future research seeks to elucidate biological pathways that may mediate the relationships between diet and mental health (Trapp et al, 2016). Dietary interventions may be effective in controlling a number of mental health challenges faced by the society but we need to know more. There is a lack of investment in research and translational knowledge into simple guidance about food consumption for prevention and management of mental health conditions. Therefore, it is necessary for public health professionals and policy makers working in the fields of nutrition and mental health to translate the relationship of mental health and diet, so that we can make healthy choices, not only in promoting and maintaining good mental health but also in increasing awareness about poor nutrition and diet quality becoming potential stimulating factors in development of poor mental health.