Is there any relationship between dietary patterns and depression and anxiety in Chinese adolescents?

Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):673-82. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011003077. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Objective: To determine the association between major dietary patterns characterized by factor analysis and risk of depression and anxiety symptoms among adolescents.

Design: Diet and symptoms of depression and anxiety were assessed in a cross-sectional survey among students attending junior high school. Dietary patterns were derived from a self-reported FFQ, which consisted of thirty-eight items. Anthropometric measurements were also performed.

Setting: Four junior high schools in Bengbu city, China.

Subjects: A random sample of 5003 adolescents, 11-16 years of age (mean 13·21 years).

Results: Three major dietary patterns were identified in the study based on factor analysis: 'snack', 'animal food' and 'traditional'. The prevalence of depression symptoms, anxiety disorders and the coexistence of both were 11·2% (560/5003), 14·6% (732/5003) and 12·6% (629/5003), respectively. After adjustment for potential confounders, adolescents in the highest tertile of snack dietary pattern scores had a higher odds for 'pure' psychological symptoms ('depression without anxiety', OR = 1·64; 95% CI 1·30, 2·06; and 'anxiety without depression', OR = 1·87; 95% CI 1·51, 2·31) compared with coexisting depression and anxiety (OR = 1·93; 95% CI 1·54, 2·43). Similar to snacks, high consumption of animal foods was associated with a higher risk of psychological symptoms. Compared with low consumption, adolescents in the highest tertile of traditional dietary pattern scores had lower odds for 'pure' depression (OR = 0·38; 95% CI 0·30, 0·49), 'pure' anxiety (OR = 0·85; 95% CI 0·69, 1·04) and coexisting anxiety and depression (OR = 0·50; 95% CI 0·39, 0·63).

Conclusions: Data from Chinese secondary-school adolescents validated findings from adult populations. Dietary patterns should be considered as important predictors of depression and anxiety among adolescents in further studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Diet* / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires