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WHITE, G. R. (2005). Does Your Diet Equal Your Mood? . National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 8. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 26, 2023 .

Does Your Diet Equal Your Mood?

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Fast food has become our American culture. At home or at school it’s everywhere. We are a society on the go and need our food in a rush. In a way to document this phenomenon a documentary was shot, by Morgan Spurlock called, “Super Size Me.” He went on a fast food binge for a month. With his increased waist line he also discovered an increasingly depressed mood he was in. So I wondered how your diet is related to your mood, especially with college level students. You are thrown into an environment that you can not cook for yourself and you do not have many healthy options. I set out to survey two college classes. With two easy attached surveys. One just asked, what they had ate for their last meal, and the next survey was a depression survey. I was hoping that their last meal reflected their overall diet when I did this. My theory is simple the worse overall your diet, the worse mood the participant is in. Most of their diet was expected high calorie, high fat, and high sodium, but the findings were not. The scores showed the higher fat the diet the lower the depression score. The amount of calories had an affect though. The higher the amount of calories consumed the higher depression score.

We have all grown up in a fast-food culture. In most cases both parents work so they can provide the very basics for their family. The need for fast, quick, cheap meals increased dramatically. Over the past 3 decades, fast-food retail sales in the United States have soared 900%, from $16.1 billion in 1975 to a projected $153.1 billion in 2004(Austin, 2005). The number of fast-food restaurants in the country now exceeds 280,000. In this same period, Americans have become increasingly dependent on restaurants and fast-food chains for their meals, with almost half of US food spending going toward food eaten away from home. Even if the child does have at least one home cooked meal it doesn’t mean they are not bombarded with fast food on a daily basis. According to Austin (2005) The median distance from any school in Chicago to the nearest fast-food restaurant was 0.52 km, a distance that an adult can walk in little more than 5 minutes, and 78% of schools had at least 1 fast-food restaurant within 800 m. Fast-food restaurants were statistically significantly clustered in areas within a short walking distance from schools, with an estimated 3 to 4 times as many fast-food restaurants within 1.5 km from schools than would be expected if the restaurants were distributed throughout the city in a way unrelated to school locations. Fast-food restaurants are concentrated within a short walking distance from schools, exposing children to poor-quality food environments in their school neighborhoods. Snack, convenience, and fast foods and sweets continue to dominate food advertisements viewed by children. Advertised foods exceed recommended daily values (RDV) of fat, saturated fat, and sodium, yet fail to provide RDVs of fiber and certain vitamins and minerals. According to the Healthy People 2010 report, childhood obesity attributable to an unhealthy diet is increasing in prevalence worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have labeled this increase an epidemic. About one in seven white children and one in four African-American and Latino children in the United States are currently overweight or obese. The spread of childhood obesity has been linked to the spread of modernization, one component of which is television advertising. The average child views over 40,000 commercials per year mostly for toys, cereals, candies, and fast foods. As early as 1985 children`s television consumption was linked with an increased risk for obesity and this link continues to receive support in recent reports including research reporting an association between childhood television viewing and adult obesity-a correlation that remained robust despite demographic controls (Harrison, 2005). Hughes (1995) suggests that life expectancy may not be increasing as expected due in part to the obesity-associated health risks, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The fast food industry’s role in the obesity epidemic has been explored in the popular press and even in films. “Super Size Me” is a documentary of the director Morgan Spurlock going on a fast-food binge for 30 days. Along with his expanding waist line (he gained ten pounds in five days), he also had an increased depressed mood. Was it the type of food he consumed, or was he just depressed over the excess weight? Since we have such a huge epidemic on our hands with obesity, I wonder if everyone that has such an unhealthy diet- associated with obesity, is dealing with depression.

Participants The subjects consisted of two undergraduate psychology classes from Missouri Western State University. Both classes were from an intermediate psychology class. One survey was given out at the beginning of the Tuesday class at 11:00am made up of 14 participants. The other was given out at the beginning of the Monday class at 10:00am made up of 22 participants. The professor gave extra credit to the students that participated in the surveys. Materials I gave out two surveys (see appendix A&B). They were given out during the first part of their psychology class. The first survey (see appendix A) consist of a blank sheet of paper telling the participants to write down everything they ate and drank for their last meal. The second survey (see appendix B) consist of 14 questions about their current mood. The participants finished within fifteen minutes. Procedure The study was conducted in November 2005. My independent variable in the study is diet and my dependent variable is mood. After I collected the surveys I took the first survey (see appendix B) and analyzed the fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, calories, potassium, and sodium. I used the website fitday.com to analyze each product consumed. I then took the second survey (see appendix A) and analyzed their current mood. The survey (see appendix A) gave me ratings score 14-46. The lower the score the less depressed the subject is. For example a score of 14-20 doesn’t indicate there is any significant depression, a score of 21-30 suggests mild depression, and so on.

I used a multiple linear regression test to predict depression scores from fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, calories, potassium, and sodium. My independent variable is diet and dependent variable is mood. Fat, cholesterol, protein, calories, potassium, were significant predictors of depression. Depression’= 20.872-.989(fatgrams)+.026(cholesterol)-.272(carbohydrate)-.526(fiber)-.452(protein) +.101(calories)-.006(potassium)-.002(sodium).

The multiple linear regression test concluded the amount of fat, cholesterol, protein, calories, and potassium are significant indicators of depression. Carbohydrates, fiber, and sodium are not significant indicators of depression. When the participant consumed more fat the results on the depression test went down. When they consumed less cholesterol the depression scores went down. The amount of protein also affected the test scores. The more protein consumed the less depression. The fewer calories indicated less depression. The more potassium equaled less depression score. The type of food the participants had eaten was expected. The high calorie, high fat meals go along with the obesity epidemic, but the results were not expected. My original theory was the unhealthier the diet high fat and high calories the worse the depression scores, but the scores showed the higher fat the diet the lower the depression score. The calories did have an affect though. The more the participant consumed the higher depression score. Many other factors could play apart in the person’s depression score. One is their activity level. If a person is more active that could increase their endorphins and their diet wouldn’t play as big as role. Also a participant could already be on an antidepressant. That could have been a good question to ask. And the time the survey was conducted was close to finals time. Anyone good diet or not might be facing some depression. I only had time to put the data for one meal. This meal might not have been a good reflection of their overall diet therefore wouldn’t be a good correlation with the depression test. If I had more time I would have liked to look over a span of a month of foods eaten. Then used that information and related it to a depression test.

Beck, Leslie. (2004). Beat the ‘freshman 15’. Retrieved September 10, 2005, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20041012.wxfood1013/BNPrint/specialReportCardHaymen, L.L. (2005). Choosing Our Battles in the Overweight/Obesity Crisis Targeting Those Who Have the Most to Gain By Losing. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 20, 294-295. Marske, A.L. (2005). Nutritional Content of Foods Advertised During the Television Programs Children Watch Most. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 1568-1574. Melly, S.J., Sanchez, B.N., Patel, A., Buka, S. (2005). Clustering of Fast-Food Restaurants around Schools: A Novel Application of Spatial Statistics to the Study of Food Environments. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 1571-1581. Spurlock, M. (Producer/Director), (2003). Super Size Me [Motion Picture]. United States: Samuel Goldwin Films.

Appendix A Mood Survey Choose the answer that most closely applies to you Disclaimer: This questionnaire may provide you with a guide to your mental health but it is not a substitute for a consultation with an experienced psychiatrist, doctor psychologist or therapist.These questions look at your mood and physical state, your feelings about your current state and how you feel about the future. These are all important aspects of depression. Answer as honestly and as quickly as you can. Please circle the response that best applies to you.MoodI feel sad Rarely 1Sometimes 2Almost all the time 3I am so sad I can hardly bear it 4I cryNo more than normal 1Sometimes 2I cry very easily 3I can no longer cry 4 I enjoy life...As much as usual 1I do not enjoy activities as before 2I have given up doing things 3I get no enjoyment any more 4Suicidal Thinking I have rarely thought of suicide 1I have thought of suicide in the past 2Sometimes I think of committing suicide 3I would commit suicide if I had the chance 4Physical stateAppetiteMy appetite is the same as always 1My weight has increased/decreased 2My appetite has increased/decreased 3I have no appetite at/I am constantly hungry 4SleepingMy sleep is normal 1I am sleeping more or less than usual 2I am sleeping at odd times of day and night 3I wake 2 hours early or sleep most of the day 4Energy I have as much energy as ever 1I have a lot less energy than I used to 2I am so tired, I only have enough energy to do things that I have to 3I am too tired to do anything, I spend my day lying in bed 4 Sexual interest My sexual interest is the same 1I have lost some interest in sex 2I am rarely interested in sex 3I have no interest in sex 4Feeling anxious or agitated I do not feel anymore anxious than usual 1I feel anxious or agitated at some point most days 2Often I feel so anxious that I cannot get anything done 3I feel anxious and agitated all the time 4Feelings about self Self esteem I feel good about myself 1I am more critical than I used to be 2I often criticize myself for things that I do 3I constantly criticize myself for everything that goes wrong 4Feeling about the world Interest in work and social relationships I am interested in my work and my friends 1I am no longer interested in my friends 2I am no longer interested in my work 3I am no longer interested in my friends or work 4Decision making I can make decisions 1Sometimes I find it difficult to make decisions 2I have great difficulty in making decisions 3I am unable to make decisions 4Feelings that people are trying to get to me I do not feel am being punished or got at 1I sometimes feel that people are getting at me 2I feel I deserve to be punished 3I feel I am being punished 4The future Feelings about the future I have things to look forward to 1Sometimes I think there is nothing to look forward to 2There is very little to look forward to 3I can see no point in carrying on 4

Scoring (all questions score at least 1) 15 - 20 Mostly yellowyour answers do not indicate that you have a significant depression, although you may feel miserable from time to time. It may help to talk about your problems with a friend. You may find it helpful to look at one of the self management programmers for some ideas to improve your mental health. 21-30 Mostly Your answers suggest that you may be mildly depressed. You may find it helpful to talk to your doctor; an online consultation may be useful. It may also be useful to look at the self management programs for some ideas to improve your mental health 31-45 Mostly Your answers suggest that you have a significant depression. It is important that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. It may be helpful to have an online consultation to decide on the best way to approach this problem. This is a serious problem and it is unlikely to improve without some help from your doctor or accredited psychologist. 46 or over Mostly Question3: Score of 3 or 4 There is little doubt that you have a serious depression. It is important that you approach your own GP as soon as possible. S/he will be able to arrange immediate treatment for you and may arrange for you to see a psychiatrist. An online consultation may help you decide the best way to approach this problem but it is not an alternative to a consultation with your own doctor.

Appendix B Last Meal Please list what you ate at your last meal (include drinks): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Submitted 12/9/2005 9:23:42 AM
Last Edited 12/9/2005 9:31:36 AM
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