J Nutr Health.  2021 Apr;54(2):152-164. 10.4163/jnh.2021.54.2.152.

Association between depression and eating behavior factors in Korean adults: the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2018

  • 1Food and Nutrition Major, School of Wellness Industry Convergence, Hankyong National University, Anseong 17579, Korea
  • 2Food and Nutrition Major, Division of Food Science & Culinary Arts, Shinhan University, Uijeongbu 11644, Korea


This study aimed to examine the association between depression and eating behavior factors in Korean adults.
Study subjects were selected (n = 5,103) from the participants of the 7th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2018 and divided into depression (men, 59; women, 162) and normal groups (men, 2,083; women, 2,799). Subjects with a Patient Health Questionnaire 9 score ≥ 10 (out of 27 points) were defined as having depression.
A higher prevalence of depression was observed in both men and women who were unemployed (p < 0.001, p = 0.008), had lower income (both p < 0.001), poorer subjective health (both p < 0.001), and poor food safety (both p < 0.001). The prevalence of depression was higher in women with lower education levels (p = 0.008), who were unmarried (p = 0.010), smokers (p < 0.001), and in a one-person household (p = 0.001). Obese men showed a higher prevalence of depression (p = 0.009). Men who were eating alone or skipping lunch had a high prevalence of depression (p = 0.009), while women who were eating breakfast (p = 0.012), lunch (p = 0.001), and dinner (p = 0.010) alone had a high prevalence of depression. The relationship analysis between men and women according to dietary habits using logistic regression showed that, in women, after variable adjustment, skipping lunch (odds ratio [OR], 2.677; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.090–6.574), meal frequency of 2 times per day (OR, 1.658; 95% CI, 1.084–2.536), and lunch frequency of 3–4 times per week (OR, 3.143; 95% CI, 1.725–5.728) were significantly associated with a higher prevalence of depression.
Depression in women was not only affected by more sociodemographic variables but also associated with decreased frequency of lunch and dinner, especially with skipping lunch.


depression; PHQ-9; eating behavior; dietary habits; adult
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