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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Food intake and blood cholesterol levels of community-based adults with mood disorders

Karen M Davison13 and Bonnie J Kaplan12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Paediatrics, University of Calgary, and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 IMPART Program, British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:10  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-10

Published: 14 February 2012



A growing body of literature links nutrition to mood, especially in epidemiological surveys, but there is little information characterizing food intake in people with diagnosed mood disorders.


Food intake obtained from 3-day food records was evaluated in 97 adults with mood disorders, whose diagnoses were confirmed in structured interviews. Information from a population nutrition survey, national guidelines for nutritional intakes (Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide) and North American dietary guidelines (Dietary Reference Intakes) was utilized to evaluate the quality of their food intake.


Compared to the regional nutrition survey data and national guidelines, a greater proportion of study participants consumed fewer of the recommended servings of grains (p < 0.001) and vegetables and fruits (p < 0.05), and less than the lower boundary of the Adequate Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for α-linolenic acid (p < 0.001). The study sample also had greater intakes of high-fat whole grain products (p < 0.01), processed meats (p < 0.00001), and higher sugar, fat or salty foods (p < 0.00001). Of the 1746 total meals and snacks consumed, 39% were from sources outside the home, suggesting a lack of time devoted to meal preparation. Finally, a subsample of 48 participants agreed to have blood tests: 44% had mild hypercholesterolemia (> 5.2 and ≤ 6.2 mmol/L) and 21% had hypercholesterolemia (> 6.2 mmol/L).


Much research has proposed multiple ways in which healthier diets may exert protective effects on mental health. The results of this study suggest that adults with mood disorders could benefit from nutritional interventions to improve diet quality.