Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Soft drink consumption and mental health problems among adults in Australia

Zumin Shia1a2 c1, Anne W Taylora1a2, Gary Witterta2, Robert Goldneya3 and Tiffany K Gilla1a2

a1 Population Research and Outcome Studies Unit, Department of Health, PO Box 287, Rundle Mall, South Australia 5000, Australia

a2 Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

a3 Discipline of Psychiatry and the Hanson Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Abstract

Objective To examine the association between soft drink consumption and mental health problems, including self-reported doctor-diagnosed anxiety, stress-related problem and depression, suicidal ideation and psychological distress, among adults in South Australia.

Design Data were collected using a risk factor surveillance system. Each month a representative random sample of South Australians was selected from the Electronic White Pages with interviews conducted using computer-assisted telephone interviewing.

Setting South Australia.

Subjects Participants were aged 16 years and above.

Results Among 4741 participants, 12·5 % reported daily soft drink consumption of more than half a litre. High levels of soft drink consumption were positively associated with depression, stress-related problem, suicidal ideation, psychological distress and a current mental health condition, but not anxiety. Overall, 24·0 % of those having suicidal ideation reported consuming more than half a litre of soft drink per day. In the multivariate analysis, after adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, those who consumed more than half a litre of soft drink per day had approximately 60 % greater risk of having depression, stress-related problem, suicidal ideation, psychological distress or a current mental health condition, compared with those not consuming soft drinks. The soft drink to total fluid consumption ratio had similar associations with mental health problems.

Conclusions There is a positive association between consumption of soft drinks and mental health problems among adults in South Australia.

(Received March 31 2009)

(Accepted November 30 2009)

(Online publication January 15 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email zumin.shi@health.sa.gov.au

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