Gender Differences in Healthy and Unhealthy Food Consumption and Its Relationship with Depression in Young Adulthood

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between the consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods and depression among young adults and the moderating effect of gender on these relationships. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 for Children and Young Adults (NLSY79 CY) was used. A total of 2983 young adults were selected for the final sample. Logistic Regression Analysis and Ordinary Linear Regression were conducted to examine the research questions. Young men were overall more likely than young women to engage in negative eating habits. The consumption of healthy foods, which included fruits and vegetables, had a significant inverse relationship with depression. An interaction effect was found, indicating that gender moderated the relationship between fruit consumption and depression among young adults. Young males need to be taught more about the importance of good eating habits. Eating more fruits and vegetables (healthy foods) is more important than avoiding fast food or soft drinks (unhealthy foods) for young adults’ mental health. The gender differences in the effect of fruit consumption implies that increased fruit consumption may be critical to reduce young females’ depression.

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Lee, J., Allen, J. Gender Differences in Healthy and Unhealthy Food Consumption and Its Relationship with Depression in Young Adulthood. Community Ment Health J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00672-x

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Keywords

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Gender
  • Depression
  • Young adulthood