The Mediating Role of Mental Health in the Relations between Dietary Behaviors and General Health: A Cross-sectional Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Public Health Faculty, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Integrative Functional Gastroenterology Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food Science, Food Security Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

4 Psychosomatic Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: The aim of this study is to find a pathway to explaining the relations between dietary behaviors with mental health and psychological functioning. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study contains 4763 participants from the employees of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. In this study, four questionnaires were administered which were provided as follows: demographic characteristics, 21-item dietary behaviors questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire, and 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). We started the analysis with the structural equation modeling (SEM) model with 4 unobserved latent and 16 observed variables. Results: The results show that the regression coefficient (standard error) of diet behavior on mental health and mental health on GHQ were − 1 (0.37) and 0.02 (0.01) with their P values as 0.007 and 0.01, respectively. For this model, the estimated root mean square error of approximation is 0.062 with 90% confidence interval of (0.060–0.065). In addition, the comparative fit indices (CFIs) were as 0.866 for incremental fit index and 0.866 for CFI. All these indices represent fairly good fit of the model to the data. Conclusion: We can conclude that “lower scores on diet behavior – higher scores on mental health problems” and “higher mean scores in depression and/or anxiety – higher scores in GHQ domains.” The SEM results showed that dietary behaviors have significance related to depression and/or anxiety and general health status.


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