Food and Behaviour Research

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Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 US adults

Jackson SE, Smith L, Firth J, Grabovac I, Soysal P, Koyanagi A, Hu L, Stubbs B, Demurtas J, Veronese N, Zhu X, Yang L (2019) Depress Anxiety.  2019 Jul.  doi: 10.1002/da.22950. [Epub ahead of print] 

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE:

To examine associations between chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms in a large, representative sample of USadults.

METHODS:

The data were from 13,626 adults (≥20 years) participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007-08 and 2013-14. Daily chocolate consumption was derived from two 24-hr dietary recalls. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), with scores ≥10 indicating the presence of clinically relevant symptoms. We used multivariable logistic regression to test associations of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, non-dark chocolate, dark chocolate) and amount of chocolateconsumption (grams/day, in quartiles) with clinically relevant depressive symptomsAdults with diabetes were excluded and models controlled for relevant sociodemographic, lifestyle, health-related, and dietary covariates.

RESULTS:

Overall, 11.1% of the population reported any chocolate consumption, with 1.4% reporting dark chocolate consumption. Although non-dark chocolate consumption was not significantly associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms, significantly lower odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms (OR = 0.30, 95%CI 0.21-0.72) were observed among those who reported consuming dark chocolate. Analyses stratified by the amount of chocolate consumption showed participants reporting chocolate consumption in the highest quartile (104-454 g/day) had 57% lower odds of depressive symptoms than those who reported no chocolate consumption (OR = 0.43, 95%CI 0.19-0.96) after adjusting for dark chocolate consumption.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results provide some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Further research capturing long-term chocolate consumption and using a longitudinal design are required to confirm these findings and clarify the direction of causation.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

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