Low fruit, vegetable intake can lead to anxiety disorders, study suggests


Adults who consume less fruits and vegetables, according to a new study, are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. "For those who consumed less than 3 sources of fruits and vegetables daily, there was at least at 24 per cent higher odds of anxiety disorder diagnosis," says the lead author of the Canadian Longitudinal Study, Karen Davison, who is a health science faculty member, nutrition informatics lab director at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, (KPU) and North American Primary Care Research Group Fellow. "This may also partly explain the findings associated with body composition measures. As levels of total body fat increased beyond 36 per cent, the likelihood of anxiety disorder was increased by more than 70 per cent," states co-author Jose Mora-Almanza, a Mitacs Globalink intern who worked with the study at KPU. "Increased body fat may be linked to greater inflammation. Emerging research suggests that some anxiety disorders can be linked to inflammation," says Davison.
In addition to diet and body composition measures, the prevalence of anxiety disorders also differed by gender, marital status, income, immigrant status and several health issues. An important limitation of the study was that the assessment of anxiety disorders was mostly based upon self-reporting of a medical diagnosis. "It is estimated that 10 per cent of the global population will suffer from anxiety disorders which are a leading cause of disability," says Karen Davison "Our findings suggest that comprehensive approaches that target health behaviours, including diet, as well as social factors, such as economic status, may help to minimize the burden of anxiety disorders among middle-aged and older adults, including immigrants," she concluded.

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