“Macho” Food and Mental Health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Food marketing to males can sometimes include “macho food” (1) messaging associated with foods high in calories, sodium, fats, processed grain, and sugar.  This can sometimes also include alcohol and nicotine products.  This is significant because food can play an important role in depression, which is a leading cause of suicide (2).

Previous research has looked at nutrition and depression among adults of various ages (3).

A recent study looked at nutrition and depression among college aged students (4).

What was the study?

Francis and colleagues studied 100 young adults (aged 17 to 35) with moderate-to-severe depression symptoms and poor diet were randomized to a dietary intervention or their usual diet (4).

What was the intervention? (4)

Intervention group were instructed to reduce their intake of processed foods and increase their intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, unsweetened dairy, olive oil, turmeric, and cinnamon (4).

What were the results?

– At 21 days, the intervention group had lower depression, anxiety, and stress scores (DASS) scores than the control group after controlling for baseline scores (4).

What are some caveats?

  • This is a small study that builds on previous studies on nutrition for depression (3).
  • According to these studies, foods that improved depression were NOT necessarily certain foods that are sometimes marketed as “macho” foods (1).
  • This is important because males account for about 75% of suicides in the United States (2), with depression being the leading cause of suicide.

According to the Center for Disease control, other health disparities experienced by men include (5):

  • Suicide (mentioned above)
  • Homicide
  • Binge drinking
  • Shorter lifespan
  • High blood pressure
  • Death by motor vehicle accidents

What is being done to address some of this?

Additional resources for depression:

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

 

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

 

References:

  1. http://nymag.com/betamale/2016/06/macho-food-marketing-is-killing-men.html
  2. https://us.movember.com/about/mental-health
  3. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/category/nutrition-depression/
  4. Francis HM, Stevenson RJ, Chambers JR, Gupta D, Newey B, Lim CK (2019) A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0222768. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222768