Vegetarian diet is inversely associated with prevalence of depression in middle-older aged South Asians in the United States

Yichen Jin, Namratha R. Kandula, Alka M. Kanaya, Sameera A. Talegawkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate associations between a vegetarian diet and depression among South Asians in the United States. Design: Data from 892 South Asians (age range 40–83 y, 47% women) enrolled in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study were included. A vegetarian diet was defined as no intake of meat, poultry or fish in the previous year as reported on a validated food frequency questionnaire. Depressive symptomology was assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) and depression was classified as CES-D score ≥16. Multivariable logistic regression was used and covariates included age, sex, study site, education, smoking, body mass index, acculturation, intentional exercise, alcohol and energy intake, and antidepressant medication use. Results: Our study demonstrated 43% lower odds of depression among vegetarians (p = 0.023). Conclusions: Vegetarian diet was found to be inversely associated with the prevalence of depression. Longitudinal examinations confirming these findings are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEthnicity and Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • South Asians
  • Vegetarian
  • depression
  • diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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