The association between vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diet quality and depressive symptoms in adults: A cross-sectional study

Hayley Walsh, Megan Lee*, Talitha Best

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Dietary patterns and depressive symptoms are associated in cross-sectional and prospective-designed research. However, limited research has considered depression risk related to meat-based and plant-based dietary patterns. This study explores the association between diet quality and depressive symptoms across omnivore, vegan, and vegetarian dietary patterns. A cross-sectional online survey utilised the Dietary Screening Tool (DST) and the Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Depression Scale (CESD-20) to measure diet quality and depressive symptoms, respectively. A total of 496 participants identified as either omnivores (n = 129), vegetarians (n = 151), or vegans (n = 216). ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc corrections indicates that dietary quality was significantly different between groups F(2, 493) = 23.61, p < 0.001 for omnivores and vegetarians and omnivores and vegans. Diet quality was highest in the vegan sample, followed by vegetarian and omnivore patterns. The results show a significant, moderately negative relationship between higher diet quality and lower depressive symptoms (r = −0.385, p < 0.001) across groups. Hierarchical regression showed that diet quality accounted for 13% of the variability in depressive symptoms for the omnivore sample, 6% for vegetarians, and 8% for vegans. This study suggests that diet quality in a meat-based or plant-based diet could be a modifiable lifestyle factor with the potential to reduce the risk of depressive symptoms. The study indicates a greater protective role of a high-quality plant-based diet and lower depressive symptoms. Further intervention research is needed to understand the bi-directional relationship between diet quality and depressive symptoms across dietary patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3258
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2023

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