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Eating healthy promotes mental health in working individuals

28 Jan 2019

Following a healthy diet and avoiding Western dietary patterns may improve the mental health of manufacturing employees, a recent study has shown.

The study included 2,942 manufacturing employees (mean age 36.68 years; 91.4 percent male; 90 percent married) of Esfahan Steel Company in Iran. Researchers evaluated the risk of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire) in relation to the participants’ dietary patterns.

In the cohort, three major dietary patterns emerged: 1) western: high intake of butter, cream, organ meat, processed meat, carbonated drinks, pastry, all kinds of seeds, canned food, fast foods, mayonnaise and egg; 2) healthy: high intake of cheese, low-fat milk, low-fat yoghourt, yoghourt-based beverage, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, soya, garlic and beans; and 3) traditional: highly loaded with hydrogenated oil, high-fat milk, high-fat yoghourt, red meat, poultry, all kinds of bread, rice, potato, fried foods and restaurant foods.

Majority (91.2 percent) of the participants had low mental health problems, while only 8.8 percent had high mental health problems. Multivariable regression analysis showed that the likelihood of having high mental problems was low in manufacturing employees in the highest tertile of healthy dietary pattern (odds ratio [OR], 0.67; 95 percent CI, 0.49–0.92).

In comparison, higher adherence to Western and traditional dietary patterns was associated with greater odds of having high mental health problems (OR, 1.66; 1.18–2.35 and OR, 1.52; 1.10–2.11, respectively).

The present data provide informative pathways on the association of dietary patterns and mental health among manufacturing employees and may be useful for developing interventions in the workplace to improve the mental health of this population, according to researchers.

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