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A randomised controlled trial assessing the effect of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men (the 'AMMEND' study): a study protocol

Bayes J, Schloss J, Sibbritt D (2022) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 20 April  doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqac106 

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Abstract:

Depression is a common mental health condition which affects 1 in 8 males each year, especially young adults. Young adulthood offers an opportunity for early dietary interventions, with research suggesting that a Mediterranean diet (MD) could be beneficial in treating depression.

Objective

This study aimed to determine if a MD can improve depressive symptoms in young males with clinical depression.

Methods

A 12-week, parallel-group, open-label, randomized control trial was conducted to assess the effect of a MD intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in young males (18-25 years). Befriending therapy was chosen for the control group. Assessments were taken at baseline, week 6 and week 12. MD adherence was measured with the Mediterranean Adherence Score (MEDAS). The primary outcome measure was the Beck Depression Inventory Scale (BDI-II) and secondary outcome was Quality of Life (QoL).

Results

A total of 72 participants completed the study. After 12 weeks, the MEDAS scores were significantly higher in the MD group compared to the befriending group (Mean diff: 7.8, 95% CI: 7.23, 8.37, p<0.001). The mean change in BDI-II score was significantly higher in the MD group compared to the befriending group at week 12 (Mean diff: 14.4, 95% CI: 11.41, 17.39, p<0.001). The mean change in QoL score was also significantly higher in the MD group compared to the befriending group at week 12 (Mean diff: 12.7, 95% CI: 7.92, 17.48), p<0.001).

Conclusion

Our results demonstrate that compared to befriending, a MD intervention leads to significant increases in MEDAS score, decreases in BDI-II score and increases in QoL scores. These results highlight the important role of nutrition for the treatment of depression and should inform advice given by clinicians to this specific demographic population.

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