Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to depressive and anxiety symptoms among adolescents in 25 low- and middle-income countries

Ming wei Liu, Qiu tong Chen, Samuel D. Towne, Jie Zhang, Hong jie Yu, Rui Tang, Danijela Gasevic, Pei gang Wang, Qi qiang He

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Fruit and vegetable intake (FVI) has been inversely associated with the risk of depression. However, there is a gap in evidence from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and among adolescents. Further, little is known about FVI in relation to the risk of anxiety. Therefore, we examined these associations among adolescents in 25 LMICs. Methods: Data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey were analyzed in 65267 adolescents aged 12–15 years (mostly nationally representative). Depressive and anxiety symptoms during the past 12 months were self-reported. Frequencies of FVI during the past 30 days were collected. Multivariable logistic regression and meta-analyses of country-wise estimates were undertaken. Results: The prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms were 30.3% and 9.8%, respectively. A meta-analysis indicated that FVI of <5 times/d (vs. higher) was associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms (OR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.02–1.18). The pooled estimate for anxiety symptoms was insignificant. When examined separately, fruit intake was significantly associated with both lower risks of depressive and anxiety symptoms; vegetable intake was significantly associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms, but not with anxiety. Limitations: Only adolescents attending school were included; the cross-sectional design cannot reveal causality; outcomes were not measured against the gold-standard diagnostic criteria. Conclusions: Our study provides multi-national evidence of the protective effect of FVI against depressive and anxiety symptoms among adolescents in LMICs, enabling key stakeholders to address mental health issues among adolescents globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-180
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fruit
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Vegetable

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