Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey.

Author(s): 

Michalak J, Zhang XC, Jacobi F.

Year Published: 

2012

Journal: 

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act.

Category: 

Study Design: 

Link to Full Article Free Online: 

Abstract: 

BACKGROUND:The present study investigated associations between vegetarian diet and mental disorders. METHODS:Participants were drawn from the representative sample of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey and its Mental Health Supplement (GHS-MHS). Completely vegetarian (N = 54) and predominantly vegetarian (N = 190) participants were compared with non-vegetarian participants (N = 3872) and with a non-vegetarian socio-demographically matched subsample (N = 242). RESULTS:Vegetarians displayed elevated prevalence rates for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and somatoform disorders. Due to the matching procedure, the findings cannot be explained by socio-demographic characteristics of vegetarians (e.g. higher rates of females, predominant residency in urban areas, high proportion of singles). The analysis of the respective ages at adoption of a vegetarian diet and onset of a mental disorder showed that the adoption of the vegetarian diet tends to follow the onset of mental disorders. CONCLUSIONS:Vegetarian diet is associated with an elevated risk of mental disorders. However, there was no evidence for a causal role of vegetarian diet in the etiology of mental disorders.