Nutrition status of primary care patients with depression and anxiety

Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(2):172-6. doi: 10.1071/PY11023.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the nutrition status of people referred to a nutrition and physical activity program for the management of mental health in general practice. Patients currently being treated for depression and/or anxiety were referred by their GPs to a lifestyle intervention program. The nutrition status was assessed during a comprehensive assessment at the commencement of the program. The lifestyle intervention program, including all assessments, was offered at multiple sites including GP clinics in the Illawarra, and in clinic rooms at the University of Wollongong. Thirty-two men and seventy-seven women completed the assessment. Patients were referred with depression (52%), anxiety (19%) or both (28%). Eighty percent of participants were overweight or obese. All participants completed an assessment that included a diet history, anthropometric measurements and the completion of several questionnaires including the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS). Nutrition status was assessed using mean nutrient intakes and Australian modified Healthy Eating Index scores evaluated against the National Nutrition Survey intakes and DASS scores. Participants met the estimated average requirements for all nutrients except folate (17%), magnesium (78%) and calcium (57%). Intakes were similar to those reported in the National Nutrition Survey. Only magnesium intakes were significantly related to depression (r=-0.26). Australian modified Healthy Eating Index scores were significantly negatively correlated with DASS scores (P<0.01). The associations presented here support the existing body of literature. Nutrition recommendations for patients with depression and anxiety should be based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating with particular attention to fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Diet Records
  • Female
  • Food
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutrition Surveys / methods
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires