A failure to eat enough food has been linked to depression and even suicide among US adolescents, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition.
Researchers analysed data on 15- and 16-year-old teens from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), and found that they were more likely to have depression, thoughts of death, a desire to die and to have attempted suicide if they lived in a family in which there was sometimes or often not enough food to eat.
The team from the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, said that the depressive disorders and suicidal symptoms were assessed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Adolescents were classified as 'food insufficient' if a family respondent reported that the family sometimes or often did not have enough to eat.
Data showed that the lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder was 6.3 per cent and the prevalence of depression was 5.4 per cent. Almost 5 per cent of 15- to 16-year-old adolescents reported that they had ever attempted suicide and 38.8 per cent reported at least one suicidal symptom, the research showed. Female adolescents were significantly more likely than males to have had depression, any depressive disorder and all symptoms of suicide.
Low income adolescents were less likely to report suicide ideation than high income adolescents, but there were no other differences by family income, the investigators reported.