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Adolescent Diet and Depression

There is evidence that a poor quality diet is associated with an increased risk of depression.[1] We know that adolescence is a critical period for setting up healthy patterns for late life, including diet, so it is hoped that improving diet at this time could carry over into adulthood and reduce the risk of depression. This is especially important as there is an increased risk of depression during adolescence and young adulthood.

A recent paper [2] in PLoS One randomly allocated participants who scored ≥7 on a DASS-21 depression sub-scale (corresponding to moderate/ higher depression symptoms) to take part in either a brief three-week diet intervention (consisting of a brief video from a registered dieticians instructing changes in food group intakes, i.e. increased vegetables, decreased sugar), or a habitual diet control group (who received no instructions regarding diet). At study completion data were available for 38 participants in each group. The authors found that there was good compliance with the intervention and these participants self-reported significantly lower depression symptoms than the control, on both the CESD-R scale (p=0.007) and DASS-21 depression sub-scale (p=0.002). The improvements on the DASS-21 depression sub-scale were still maintained at three-month follow-up (p=0.009).

Peter Chilton, Research Fellow


  1. Lai JS, Hiles S, Hure AJ, McEvoy M, Attia J. A systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 99(1): 181-97.
  2. Francis HM, et al. A brief intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial. PLOS One. 2019.
Fri 11 Oct 2019, 15:00 | Tags: Adolescent, Diet, Mental Health, Peter Chilton