European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 273–281 | Cite as

Prospective study on the association between diet quality and depression in mid-aged women over 9 years

  • Jun S. LaiEmail author
  • Alexis J. Hure
  • Christopher Oldmeadow
  • Mark McEvoy
  • Julie Byles
  • John Attia
Original Contribution



To examine the longitudinal association between diet quality and depression using prospective data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.


Women born in 1946–1951 (n = 7877) were followed over 9 years starting from 2001. Dietary intake was assessed using the Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies (version 2) in 2001 and a shortened form in 2007 and 2010. Diet quality was summarised using the Australian Recommended Food Score. Depression was measured using the 10-item Centre for Epidemiologic Depression Scale and self-reported physician diagnosis. Pooled logistic regression models including time-varying covariates were used to examine associations between diet quality tertiles and depression. Women were also categorised based on changes in diet quality during 2001–2007. Analyses were adjusted for potential confounders.


The highest tertile of diet quality was associated marginally with lower odds of depression (OR 0.94; 95 % CI 0.83, 1.00; P = 0.049) although no significant linear trend was observed across tertiles (OR 1.00; 95 % CI 0.94, 1.10; P = 0.48). Women who maintained a moderate or high score over 6 years had a 6–14 % reduced odds of depression compared with women who maintained a low score (moderate vs low score—OR 0.94; 95 % CI 0.80, 0.99; P = 0.045; high vs low score—OR 0.86; 95 % CI 0.77, 0.96; P = 0.01). Similar results were observed in analyses excluding women with prior history of depression.


Long-term maintenance of good diet quality may be associated with reduced odds of depression. Randomised controlled trials are needed to eliminate the possibility of residual confounding.


Diet Depression Prospective study Women 



The research on which this paper is based was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health who funded the study and the women who provided the survey data. The authors would also like to thank Professor Graham Giles of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre of Cancer Council Victoria, for permission to use the Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies (Version 2), Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria, 1996.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

This study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees of the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland. The research was carried out in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to inclusion in the study.

Supplementary material

394_2015_1078_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (132 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun S. Lai
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Alexis J. Hure
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christopher Oldmeadow
    • 2
  • Mark McEvoy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Julie Byles
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • John Attia
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Hunter Medical Research InstituteNew Lambton HeightsAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  4. 4.Research Centre for Gender, Health and AgeingUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  5. 5.John Hunter HospitalNew Lambton HeightsAustralia

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