Fast food consumption and suicide attempts among adolescents aged 12-15 years from 32 countries

J Affect Disord. 2020 Apr 1:266:63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.130. Epub 2020 Jan 22.


Background: We examined the fast food consumption-suicide attempt relationship among 105,061 adolescents aged 12-15 years from 32 countries.

Methods: This study was based on cross-sectional data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS), and included 4 low-income, 13 lower middle-income, 9 upper middle-income, and 6 high-income countries. Data on past 7-day fast food consumption and 12-month suicide attempts were collected. The association between fast food consumption and suicide attempts was investigated with multivariable logistic regression and meta-analysis while adjusting for sex, age, food insecurity (proxy of socioeconomic status), alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, obesity, carbonated soft drink consumption, and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Results: Overall, the prevalence of fast food consumption was high (53.5%) and the proportion of suicide attempts was higher among consumers of fast food compared to non-consumers (11.8% vs. 8.3%). Of the 32 countries included in the study, a positive association between fast food consumption and suicide attempts was found in 26 countries although this was not statistically significant in all countries. The pooled OR (95% CI) based on a meta-analysis was 1.31 (1.17-1.46).

Limitations: Since this was a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about causality or temporality in the associations assessed.

Conclusions: Fast food consumption is positively associated with suicide attempts in adolescents. Further research of longitudinal design is needed to confirm/refute our findings and explore the potential underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Adolescents; Epidemiology; Fast food consumption; Multinational study; Suicide attempts.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fast Foods*
  • Humans
  • Poverty
  • Schools
  • Suicide, Attempted*