Association of the Dietary Inflammatory Index with Depressive Symptoms among Pre- and Post-Menopausal Women: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2010

Nutrients. 2022 May 9;14(9):1980. doi: 10.3390/nu14091980.


During their lifetime, 20% of US women experience depression. Studies have indicated that a high Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) score is associated with high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and depression. No previous study has compared the association of the DII with different measures of depression (e.g., somatic, cognitive) among pre- and post-menopausal women. We used data from 2512 pre-menopausal and 2392 post-menopausal women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005−2010 database. We ran linear and logistic regression models to compare the association of the DII with survey-measured depression among pre- and post-menopausal women. We further assessed the mediation effect of CRP on the association of the DII and depression, using structural equation modeling. The odds of experiencing depression among pre-menopausal women was higher for all DII quartiles compared to the reference group (i.e., DII Q1), with an odds ratio (OR) of 3.2, 5.0, and 6.3 for Q2, Q3, and Q4, respectively (p < 0.05). Among post-menopausal women, only Q4 had 110% higher odds of experiencing depression compared to Q1 (p = 0.027). No mediation effect of CRP was found between DII and any of our depression outcome measures. Our findings suggest that lifestyle habits, such as diet, may have a stronger influence on mental health among pre-menopausal women than post-menopausal women.

Keywords: NHANES; depression; dietary inflammatory index (DII); inflammation; menopause.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Postmenopause*
  • Risk Factors

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.