The association between depression and eating styles in four European countries: The MooDFOOD prevention study

Nadine P.G. Paans*, Mariska Bot, Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Marjolein Visser, Miquel Roca, Elisabeth Kohls, Ed Watkins, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective: Depression, one of the most prevalent and disabling disorders in Europe, is thought to be associated with unhealthy eating styles. As prevalence of depression and eating styles potentially differ across Europe, the current study aimed to investigate in a large, European sample, the associations of history of major depressive disorder and depression severity with unhealthy eating styles. Methods: Baseline data of the MooDFOOD prevention study was used. The current analysis included 990 participants of four European countries (The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain). Analyses of Covariance and linear regression analyses were performed with depression history or depression severity as determinants, and emotional, uncontrolled, and cognitive restrained eating (Three Factor Eating Questionnaire Revised, 18 item) as outcomes. Results: Depression history and severity were associated with more emotional and uncontrolled eating and with less cognitive restrained eating. Mood, somatic, and cognitive symptom clusters were also associated with more emotional and uncontrolled eating, and with less cognitive restrained eating. The somatic depressive symptoms “increased appetite” and “increased weight” were more strongly associated to unhealthy eating styles compared to other symptoms. No differences in associations between depression and unhealthy eating were found between European countries. Conclusion: Our results suggest that depression is related to more unhealthy eating styles. Diminishing unhealthy eating styles in subthreshold depressed persons could potentially reduce adverse health consequences like weight gain, unhealthy dietary patterns and weight-related diseases. It is also possible that interventions that decrease depressive symptoms can lead to a decrease in unhealthy eating styles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Early online date9 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


Funding for this paper was provided by the European Union FP7 MooDFOOD Project ‘Multi-country cOllaborative project on the rOle of Diet, FOod-related behaviour, and Obesity in the prevention of Depression’ (grant agreement no. 613598). This work is supported in the UK by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), through the Primary Care Research Network, and the NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility.

FundersFunder number
NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility
National Institute for Health Research
Seventh Framework Programme613598


    • Cognitive restraint
    • Depressive disorder
    • Depressive symptoms
    • Emotional eating
    • Uncontrolled eating


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