Home Medizin Studie findet Zusammenhang zwischen Ernährungsvielfalt und verringertem Depressionsrisiko bei Wissensarbeitern

Studie findet Zusammenhang zwischen Ernährungsvielfalt und verringertem Depressionsrisiko bei Wissensarbeitern

von NFI Redaktion

A recent article in the BMC Public Health Journal reported on a multicenter cross-sectional study conducted by researchers to investigate the relationship between non-work dietary and exercise habits and depressive symptoms in a large cohort of 118,723 knowledge workers in China. The study also examined other factors contributing to depressive symptoms in this group for a more comprehensive systematic review.

Study: Link Between Diet Diversity, Non-Work Sedentary Time, and Depressive Symptoms in Knowledge Workers: A Multicenter Cross-sectional Study. Image Credit: JoyStudio/Shutterstock.com


Studies have shown that both varied diets and sedentary lifestyles are risk factors for depression. For instance, a previous study conducted among obese women from disadvantaged communities found that depressive symptoms were associated with diet but not with physical activity.

However, there is a lack of studies covering a large population of diverse professional groups, including knowledge workers. Additionally, the relationship between depressive symptoms and sedentary behavior outside of work has been rarely studied.

Due to the demanding nature of their work, knowledge workers are prone to various mental health issues such as depression, in today’s service- and knowledge-based global economy.

About the Study

In the present study, conducted between January 2018 and December 2020, researchers recruited participants from multiple hospitals in China based on the following inclusion criteria:

  • Age ≥ 18 years
  • Knowledge workers as per Peter Drucker’s definition
  • Ability to understand and write Chinese
  • Consent for participation
  • Provision of demographic data and completion of all lifestyle/nutrition and depressive symptoms assessments

According to the protocol, participants also completed an 86-item online survey at the medical center they were enrolled in. The team analyzed four levels of non-work sedentary behavior: less than two, two to four, four to six, and more than six hours per day. They used the Chinese Food Pagoda as the Dietary Diversity Scale (DDS), with different point ranges indicating inadequate, moderate, and sufficient diversity.

The team recorded participants‘ self-remembrances of the food they had eaten in the past three days and meticulously noted if they consumed all three meals on time, ate midnight snacks, were socially active, smoked, and consumed coffee, sugary drinks, and alcohol. They also used the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to assess depressive symptoms.

Finally, the team conducted several statistical tests to identify relationships between categorical variables studied in this research, such as using the Chi-square test to compare different levels of dietary diversity and the presence or absence of depressive symptoms.


The study’s findings suggest that a higher proportion of knowledge workers reporting diets in the DDS-1 and DDS-2 groups exhibited depressive symptoms, while this association was reversed in the DDS-3 group with an Odds Ratio (OR) of 0.91; 95% Confidence Interval (CI).

In general, a diverse diet, especially in specific food groups, can reduce the risk of poor metabolic outcomes by improving gut microbiome diversity. Therefore, greater dietary diversity may also reverse the prevalence of depressive symptoms in knowledge workers.

Furthermore, the results showed that knowledge workers who did not regularly consume their three meals had an increased risk of depressive symptoms compared to those who did. Regular meals ensure adequate nutrient intake, especially of folate, zinc, and magnesium, which contribute to maintaining healthy brain function.

Interestingly, knowledge workers who never overate had a lower risk of depressive symptoms. Additionally, those who smoked and consumed alcohol in moderation had a lower risk of depressive symptoms, while daily consumption of sugary drinks likely intensified depressive symptoms.

Finally, knowledge workers who never engaged in physical activity had a higher rate of depressive symptoms, which increased with the extent of their non-working sedentary behavior.


Overall, a sedentary lifestyle outside of work and low dietary diversity are risk factors for depressive symptoms in knowledge workers. Additionally, irregular eating and overeating are serious risk factors for depressive symptoms. This evidence is preliminary and requires further validation in future studies. Studies utilizing objective indicators to investigate factors contributing to depressive symptoms in knowledge workers may shed more light on the underlying mechanisms behind these associations. In the meantime, it is crucial to implement measures to improve the dietary diversity of knowledge workers and reduce the time they spend sedentary outside of work.

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