Comparison of Omnivore, Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Quality and Depressive Symptoms: An Analysis of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health.

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Objective: Current literature indicates that increasing the variety and quantity of plant foods may be protective against depressive symptoms and that vegans and vegetarians have a greater risk of depression than the general population. However, few studies have compared diet quality and depressive symptoms across omnivore, vegetarian and vegan populations through longitudinal methods to further understand this complex relationship.

Methods: A linear mixed-effects model was conducted using existing data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH) examining diet quality (Dietary Quality for Epidemiological Studies Scale; DQESv2) using the Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS) and depressive symptoms (Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Depression Scale; CESD) of 6,884 women between 2003 and 2009, categorising the data into omnivore, vegetarian and vegan groups using answers from the DQESv2

Results: Preliminary descriptive statistics indicate that in 2003 vegetarians had the highest average diet quality (n = 280) followed by omnivores (n =6591), then vegans (n = 13). In 2009 omnivores had highest average diet quality (n = 6672) followed by vegetarians (n = 203), then vegans (n = 9). In both 2003 and 2009 vegans had the highest scores for depressive symptoms, followed by vegetarians then omnivores.

Conclusions: These results may be skewed as the ARFS may disadvantage the vegan and vegetarian groups due to scores for meat consumption increasing diet quality. Consideration is given to the potential influence of changing social attitudes and awareness of plant-based dietary patterns since the longitudinal data was collected.
Period14 Mar 2023
Event titleInternational Society of Nutritional Psychiatry Research: Conference
Event typeConference
LocationCairns, AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational