Effects of dietary interventions on depressive symptom profiles: Results from the MooDFOOD depression prevention study

Sarah R. Vreijling*, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Mariska Bot, Ed Watkins, Matthew Owens, Elisabeth Kohls, Ulrich Hegerl, Miquel Roca, Margalida Gili, Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Marjolein Visser, Aartjan T.F. Beekman, Rick Jansen, Femke Lamers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Dietary interventions did not prevent depression onset nor reduced depressive symptoms in a large multi-center randomized controlled depression prevention study (MooDFOOD) involving overweight adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms. We conducted follow-up analyses to investigate whether dietary interventions differ in their effects on depressive symptom profiles (mood/cognition; somatic; atypical, energy-related). Methods Baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up data from MooDFOOD were used (n = 933). Participants received (1) placebo supplements, (2) food-related behavioral activation (F-BA) therapy with placebo supplements, (3) multi-nutrient supplements (omega-3 fatty acids and a multi-vitamin), or (4) F-BA therapy with multi-nutrient supplements. Depressive symptom profiles were based on the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology. Results F-BA therapy was significantly associated with decreased severity of the somatic (B = -0.03, p = 0.014, d = -0.10) and energy-related (B = -0.08, p = 0.001, d = -0.13), but not with the mood/cognition symptom profile, whereas multi-nutrient supplementation was significantly associated with increased severity of the mood/cognition (B = 0.05, p = 0.022, d = 0.09) and the energy-related (B = 0.07, p = 0.002, d = 0.12) but not with the somatic symptom profile. Conclusions Differentiating depressive symptom profiles indicated that food-related behavioral interventions are most beneficial to alleviate somatic symptoms and symptoms of the atypical, energy-related profile linked to an immuno-metabolic form of depression, although effect sizes were small. Multi-nutrient supplements are not indicated to reduce depressive symptom profiles. These findings show that attention to clinical heterogeneity in depression is of importance when studying dietary interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3580-3589
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2022

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