Depression is very common and multi-problematic disorder, and it can affect almost all aspects of lives of people including the way people eat, sleep, behave and perform. Depression can also lead to increase in consumption of unhealthy foods. This study is set to assess impact of depression on the consumption frequency of various food groups among final-year medical students of Rawalpindi Medical University Pakistan. This may bring new way to improve physical health through application of interventions for mental health. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in December 2019 among final year medical MBBS students of Rawalpindi Medical University Pakistan. Two questionnaires were used for data collection including, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised-10 (CESD-R-10) for depression assessment while a self-structured questionnaire which was designed to get information regarding demographic details and food consumption of various food groups (Fresh foods, Sweet foods, Ready to eat foods, Snack foods and Fast Foods). Students who had any physical and mental illness and irregular dietary habits were excluded. From the total of 307 participants of study, 269 participants gave back properly filled questionnaires, therefore, final sample size became 269. Data analysis was accomplished through SPSS v.25.0. Because of non-parametric nature of data different non-parametric statistical tests including Mann–Whitney test, Kruskal–Wallis test and Spearman correlation were applied to evaluate the study variables. A p-value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Difference in depression was statistically significant, across gender (p=0.007) and boarding status (p=0.000). Significant differences of depression were also found across intake three frequency levels of sweet foods(p=0.000), fast foods(p=0.000), snack foods(p=0.000), ready to eat foods(p=0.000) and fruits and vegetables(p=0.000). Spearman correlation coefficient was positive for four foods groups including sweet foods (0.426 with p=0.000), fast foods (0.610 with p=0.000), snack foods (0.611 with p=0.000), ready to eat foods (0.649 with p=0.000), while for fruits and vegetables ( -0.640 with p=0.000) it was negative. Positive values of Spearman correlation coefficient for sweet foods, fast foods, snack foods, and ready to eat foods indicate that, increase in depression leads to increase in consumption of these food groups while, negative value for fruits and vegetables indicates that increase in depression leads to reduction in consumption of this food group. Our study results show that depression leads to change in consumption frequency of various food groups. Increase in depression leads to increase consumption frequency of unhealthy food groups including sweet foods, fast foods, snack foods, ready to eat foods while increase in depression leads to decrease consumption frequency of fruits and vegetables. Therefore, by applying suitable intervention for the alleviation of depression we can improve dietary habits and consequently physical health.
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