Association between Dairy Consumption and Psychological Symptoms: Evidence from a Cross-Sectional Study of College Students in the Yangtze River Delta Region of China

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Feb 13;20(4):3261. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20043261.


Background: Assessing the dairy consumption and psychological symptoms of Chinese college students as a reference for the mental health of Chinese college students.

Methods: A three-stage stratified whole-group sampling method was used to investigate dairy consumption and psychological symptoms among 5904 (2554 male students, accounting for 43.3% of the sample) college students in the Yangtze River Delta region. The mean age of the subjects was 20.13 ± 1.24 years. Psychological symptoms were surveyed using the Brief Questionnaire for the Assessment of Adolescent Mental Health. The detection rates of emotional problems, behavioral symptoms, social adaptation difficulties and psychological symptoms among college students with different dairy consumption habits were analyzed using chi-square tests. The association between dairy consumption and psychological symptoms was assessed using a logistic regression model.

Results: College students from the "Yangtze River Delta" region of China participated in the study, of which 1022 (17.31%) had psychological symptoms. The proportions of participants with dairy consumption of ≤2 times/week, 3-5 times/week, and ≥6 times/week were 25.68%, 42.09%, and 32.23%, respectively. Using dairy consumption ≥6 times/week as a reference, multifactor logistic regression analysis showed that college students with dairy consumption ≤2 times/week (OR = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.18, 1.71) were at higher risk of psychological symptoms (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese college students with lower dairy consumption exhibited higher detection rates of psychological symptoms. Dairy consumption was negatively associated with the occurrence of psychological symptoms. Our study provides a basis for mental health education and increasing knowledge about nutrition among Chinese college students.

Keywords: Yangtze River Delta region; college students; cross-sectional studies; dairy consumption; psychological symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics
  • Students / psychology
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

Grant for Scientific Research Project of Anhui Provincial Education Department (2022AH051824).