A Comparison of Sugar Intake between Individuals with High and Low Trait Anxiety: Results from the NutriNet-Santé Study

Nutrients. 2021 Apr 30;13(5):1526. doi: 10.3390/nu13051526.


(1) Background: Dietary carbohydrates are likely correlated with mental health in general, and with anxiety in particular. Our aim was to investigate the cross-sectional relationship between trait anxiety and carbohydrate (especially sugar) intake in a large sample derived from the general French population. (2) Methods: The analyses included 20231 non-diabetic adults enrolled in the NutriNet-Santé e-cohort, who had completed the trait anxiety subscale of the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (T-STAI, 2013-2016) and who were subsequently divided into high and low trait anxiety groups (T-STAI cut-off of 40 points). Sugar-rich food and macronutrient intake was calculated from ≥3 self-administered 24-h dietary records. The association between trait anxiety and carbohydrate intake was evaluated by ANCOVA according to age category (<45 and ≥45 years). (3) Results: In the full sample, 7942 (39,3%) individuals fell into the high trait anxiety category. They were more likely to be women (82,2% versus 69,2%; p < 0,0001) and younger (mean age 51,6 versus 55,1 years; p < 0,0001) compared to the low trait anxiety group. In fully-adjusted models, high-anxiety individuals aged under 45 years had significantly higher mean consumption of added simple sugars (43,9 versus 42,3 g/d; p < 0,0007), whereas those aged over 45 years with high trait anxiety had significantly lower mean consumption of fruit (214,0 versus 219,5 g/d; p < 0,02) compared to their low-anxiety counterparts. (4) Conclusion: This cross-sectional study revealed modest age-specific associations between anxiety status and sugar intake among adults. Prospective studies with representative samples are needed to explore potential bi-directionality of the observed associations.

Keywords: anxiety; carbohydrates; diet; dietary sugars; epidemiological study; mental health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Sugars / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Dietary Sugars