Higher dietary fat quality is associated with lower anxiety score in women: a cross-sectional study

Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2020 Feb 26:19:14. doi: 10.1186/s12991-020-00264-9. eCollection 2020.


Background: The relationship between anxiety and dietary fat quality (DFQ) has not been well studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between anxiety disorder and fatty acids' intake in women.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 300 women aged 18-49 attending healthcare centers. Dietary exposure was measured by a 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). To determine the status of anxiety, the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) questionnaire was used. Based on the total score of anxiety, the participants were divided into two groups of without anxiety (< 8) and with anxiety (≥ 8). The relationship between fatty acids intake and odd ratio (OR) for anxiety was analyzed by simple logistic regression.

Results: About 37.7% of individuals reported anxiety. After adjustment for covariates, an increase in the OR for anxiety was observed across the quintuples of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) (OR 3.17; 95% CI 1.43-7.00; p-trend = 0.005). In addition, higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) (OR 0.15; 95% CI 0.05-0.44; p-trend = 0.001), oleic acid (OR 0.25; 95% CI 0.09-0.67; p-trend = 0.002), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (OR 0.07; 95% CI 0.02-0.23; p-trend < 0.001), and n-3:n-6 poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.24-1.03; p-trend = 0.02) were found to be related with lower OR of anxiety.

Conclusion: Intake of SFAs was positively related to anxiety disorder, whereas MUFAs, oleic acid, ALA, and n-3: n-6 PUFAs intake were inversely related to anxiety score. For investigating the association of fat intake and anxiety disorder, DFQ may be a useful measure.

Keywords: Anxiety disorder; Dietary fat quality; Fatty acids.