Objective: To examine associations between chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms in a large, representative sample of US adults.
Methods: The data were from 13,626 adults (≥20 years) participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007-08 and 2013-14. Daily chocolate consumption was derived from two 24-hr dietary recalls. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), with scores ≥10 indicating the presence of clinically relevant symptoms. We used multivariable logistic regression to test associations of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, non-dark chocolate, dark chocolate) and amount of chocolate consumption (grams/day, in quartiles) with clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Adults with diabetes were excluded and models controlled for relevant sociodemographic, lifestyle, health-related, and dietary covariates.
Results: Overall, 11.1% of the population reported any chocolate consumption, with 1.4% reporting dark chocolate consumption. Although non-dark chocolate consumption was not significantly associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms, significantly lower odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms (OR = 0.30, 95%CI 0.21-0.72) were observed among those who reported consuming dark chocolate. Analyses stratified by the amount of chocolate consumption showed participants reporting chocolate consumption in the highest quartile (104-454 g/day) had 57% lower odds of depressive symptoms than those who reported no chocolate consumption (OR = 0.43, 95%CI 0.19-0.96) after adjusting for dark chocolate consumption.
Conclusions: These results provide some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Further research capturing long-term chocolate consumption and using a longitudinal design are required to confirm these findings and clarify the direction of causation.
Keywords: NHANES; chocolate; dark chocolate; depressive symptoms; epidemiology.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.