High ultra-processed food consumption is associated with elevated psychological distress as an indicator of depression in adults from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Lane, Melissa M., Lotfaliany, Mojtaba, Hodge, Allison M., O'Neil, Adrienne, Travica, Nikolaj, Jacka, Felice N., Rocks, Tetyana, Machado, Priscila, Forbes, Malcolm, Ashtree, Deborah N., and Marx, Wolfgang (2023) High ultra-processed food consumption is associated with elevated psychological distress as an indicator of depression in adults from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 335. pp. 57-66.

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Abstract

Background: Few studies have tested longitudinal associations between ultra-processed food consumption and depressive outcomes. As such, further investigation and replication are necessary. The aim of this study is to examine associations of ultra-processed food intake with elevated psychological distress as an indicator of depression after 15 years.

Method: Data from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS) were analysed (n = 23,299). We applied the NOVA food classification system to a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to determine ultra-processed food intake at baseline. We categorised energy-adjusted ultra-processed food consumption into quartiles by using the distribution of the dataset. Psychological distress was measured by the ten-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). We fitted unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression models to assess the association of ultra-processed food consumption (exposure) with elevated psychological distress (outcome and defined as K10 ≥ 20). We fitted additional logistic regression models to determine whether these associations were modified by sex, age and body mass index.

Results: After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and lifestyle and health-related behaviours, participants with the highest relative intake of ultra-processed food were at increased odds of elevated psychological distress compared to participants with the lowest intake (aOR: 1.23; 95%CI: 1.10, 1.38, p for trend = 0.001). We found no evidence for an interaction of sex, age and body mass index with ultra-processed food intake.

Conclusion: Higher ultra-processed food intake at baseline was associated with subsequent elevated psychological distress as an indicator of depression at follow-up. Further prospective and intervention studies are necessary to identify possible underlying pathways, specify the precise attributes of ultra-processed food that confer harm, and optimise nutrition-related and public health strategies for common mental disorders.

Item ID: 78910
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-2517
Keywords: Diet, Major depressive disorder, NOVA, Nutritional psychiatry, Psychological distress, Ultra-processed food
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC 2009295, NHMRC 209057, NHMRC 396414, NHMRC 1074383
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2023 23:53
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320221 Psychiatry (incl. psychotherapy) @ 50%
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3210 Nutrition and dietetics > 321001 Clinical nutrition @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200409 Mental health @ 70%
20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200199 Clinical health not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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