Research Study Abstract

Association of Depressive Symptoms, Sedentary Behavior, And Dietary Intake

  • Presented on May 30, 2013

Depression is consistently associated with overweight and obesity. Studies have shown that physical activity can prevent and treat depression. Some evidence also suggests nutritional interventions may reduce depression risk, symptoms and severity. However, less is known about whether depressive symptoms are associated with sedentary behavior and poor dietary intake.

Purpose To investigate whether greater depressive symptom scores are associated with greater time spent in sedentary behavior and poorer diet quality in lower income overweight and obese women.

Methods Overweight and obese women (n=202, ages 25-51 years, 87% African American) were recruited from financially disadvantaged census tracts in Columbia, SC. Depression symptoms were measured using the short form of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD-10). Sedentary behavior (<100 counts/minute) was objectively measured using the ActiGraph accelerometer over 7 days. Dietary intake was assessed via three 24-hour dietary recalls. Linear regression models tested the association between symptoms of depression and percent of time in sedentary behavior; percent of calories from total fat, saturated fat and trans fat; total sugars (g/d); added sugars (g/d); sweetened beverages (srv/d); and total sodium (mg/d). Models adjusted for total calories, age, marital status, education, and employment.

Results Mean CESD-10 score was 9.4 ± 5.5 (scores ≥ 10 predict clinically diagnosed depression). Participants were sedentary 42% of the day on average, or 4279.4 ± 752.2 min/week. Linear regression showed no association between depressive symptoms and percent sedentary time (p=.88). Greater depressive symptoms were associated with a higher percentage of total daily caloric intake of saturated fat (p=.04), total sugars (p=.04) and more servings per day of sweetened beverages (p=.05).

Conclusion In this sample, depressive symptoms were associated with more negative dietary practices but not sedentary behavior. It appears overweight and obese women reporting depressive symptoms may benefit from dietary counseling, with emphasis on reducing intake of saturated fat, total sugars, and sweetened beverages.


  • Kara M. Goodrich
  • Patricia A. Sharpe
  • Sara Wilcox
  • Brent E. Hutto


  • University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Presented at

ACSM 2013 Annual Meeting


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