“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

 

Study: Men and Depression Treatment

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

About 1 in 16 individuals experienced depression in a given year(1), impacting both men and women.

A recent survey of about 95,000 college students had interesting information about men and depression (2).

What did the study involve? (2)

  • 95,761 college students across 137 colleges and Universities across the United States.
  • 91% of the students were 18 to 29 years old.
  • This is a 30 minute survey asking a variety of questions regarding health, health related lifestyle, etc.
  • This also included questions about depression, overwhelming anxiety, receiving treatment, and suicidal ideation.
  • Survey has been conducted over several years.

What did the results show?

Similar percentage of male and female college students (30.8, 38.8%) reported feeling so depressed that they could not function in the past 12 months.

Similar percentage of males and females reported seriously considering suicide in the past 12 months (8.5, 9.6%).

However, fewer male college students reported getting treatment for depression than female college students (8.7 % male vs. 15.6% female).

Why might this be the case?

There are several possibilities. Some of them include:

  • Men can experience depression differently (3) than women and men may be more likely to feel very tired and irritable, and lose interest in their work, family, or hobbies, sleep difficulties as a result of depression (4).
  • Many men do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their depression (4).
  • 3/4 of suicides in the United States are men (5).
  • Men tend to under utilize health care overall than women; and this may play a role in men dying sooner than women on average (5).

What is being done about men’s mental health on campus?

Increasing awareness might help. Click here to learn more about men’s health disparities.

What is being done to increase awareness about Men and mental health?

Are there any other helpful resources?

Anonymous Mental health screening.
Suicide screening prevention.
Movember
Men’s mental health at National Institute of Mental Health

Movember National Men’s Health Campaign
Article about how depression might impact men differently.
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. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml
  2. American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2016. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association; 2016.
  3. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/11/
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/Vitalstatsonline.htm
  5. https://us.movember.com/programs/cause