Food and Behaviour Research

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Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra follow-up (SUN) cohort

Sánchez-Villegas A, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Alonso A, Schlatter J, Lahortiga F, Serra Majem L, Martínez-González MA (2009) Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;66(10):1090-8.   

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CONTEXT: Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is thought to reduce inflammatory, vascular, and metabolic processes that may be involved in the risk of clinical depression.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between adherence to the MDP and the incidence of clinical depression.

DESIGN: Prospective study that uses a validated 136-item food frequency questionnaire to assess adherence to the MDP. The MDP score positively weighted the consumption of vegetables, fruit and nuts, cereal, legumes, and fish; the monounsaturated- to saturated-fatty-acids ratio; and moderate alcohol consumption, whereas meat or meat products and whole-fat dairy were negatively weighted.

SETTING: A dynamic cohort of university graduates (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra Follow-up SUN Project).

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 10 094 initially healthy Spanish participants from the SUN Project participated in the study. Recruitment began on December 21, 1999, and is ongoing.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Participants were classified as having incident depression if they were free of depression and antidepressant medication at baseline and reported a physician-made diagnosis of clinical depression and/or antidepressant medication use during follow-up.

RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 4.4 years, 480 new cases of depression were identified. The multiple adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) of depression for the 4 upper successive categories of adherence to the MDP (taking the category of lowest adherence as reference) were 0.74 (0.57-0.98), 0.66 (0.50-0.86), 0.49 (0.36-0.67), and 0.58 (0.44-0.77) (P for trend

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest a potential protective role of the MDP with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders; additional longitudinal studies and trials are needed to confirm these findings.