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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: The Relationship Between Inflammatory Dietary Pattern in Childhood and Depression in Early Adulthood

Inflammation in the body is a natural process that helps infections and wounds to heal. Many things can influence inflammation, including our diet — some foods can fuel an inflammatory response while others have anti-inflammatory properties.

But how is inflammation from diet associated with depression?

Recent University at Albany School of Public Health graduate Dr. Xiao Cong, along with Drs. Melissa Tracy, Akiko Hosler, Allison Appleton, and Lynn Edmonds, recently studied the relationship between inflammatory dietary pattern in childhood — determined from inflammatory markers in blood and self-reported dietary information — and depression in early adulthood. This research was partially supported by a grant to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the UAlbany from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Data was collected over 10 years from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in England. An inflammatory dietary pattern (IDP) score was determined for children aged 7-8 based on a food intake questionnaire on 38 different food groups along with indicators for inflammation found in the children’s blood. The researchers then linked this to depression diagnosis data gathered when participants were eighteen.

When breaking down the participants into three groups (lowest, middle, and highest) for IDP, results showed that participants in the highest IDP group had 1.34 times the odds to develop depression when compared to those in the lowest group. Of note, the relationship was very strong for those who were not overweight or obese.

This provides preliminary evidence that chronic inflammation may underlie the relationship between diet and depression— even for children. Full results can be found in Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health.

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