Depression scores predict adherence in a dietary weight loss intervention trial

Somerset, Shawn M., Graham, Leanne, & Markwell, Katherine (2011) Depression scores predict adherence in a dietary weight loss intervention trial. Clinical Nutrition, 30(5), pp. 593-598.

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Background & aims

Depression has a complex association with cardiometabolic risk, both directly as an independent factor and indirectly through mediating effects on other risk factors such as BMI, diet, physical activity, and smoking. Since changes to many cardiometabolic risk factors involve behaviour change, the rise in depression prevalence as a major global health issue may present further challenges to long-term behaviour change to reduce such risk. This study investigated associations between depression scores and participation in a community-based weight management intervention trial.


A group of 64 overweight (BMI > 27), otherwise healthy adults, were recruited and randomised to follow either their usual diet, or an isocaloric diet in which saturated fat was replaced with monounsaturated fat (MUFA), to a target of 50% total fat, by adding macadamia nuts to the diet. Subjects were assessed for depressive symptoms at baseline and at ten weeks using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II). Both control and intervention groups received advice on National Guidelines for Physical Activity and adhered to the same protocol for food diary completion and trial consultations. Anthropometric and clinical measurements (cholesterol, inflammatory mediators) also were taken at baseline and 10 weeks.


During the recruitment phase, pre-existing diagnosed major depression was one of a range of reasons for initial exclusion of volunteers from the trial. Amongst enrolled participants, there was a significant correlation (R = −0.38, p < 0.05) between BDI-II scores at baseline and duration of participation in the trial. Subjects with a baseline BDI ≥10 (moderate to severe depression symptoms) were more likely to dropout of the trial before week 10 (p < 0.001). BDI-II scores in the intervention (MUFA) diet group decreased, but increased in the control group over the 10-week period. Univariate analysis of variance confirmed these observations (adjusted R2 = 0.257, p = 0.01). Body weight remained static over the 10-week period in the intervention group, corresponding to a relative increase in the control group (adjusted R2 = 0.097, p = 0.064).


Depression symptoms have the potential to affect enrolment in and adherence to dietbased risk reduction interventions, and may consequently influence the generalisability of such trials. Depression scores may therefore be useful for characterising, screening and allocating subjects to appropriate treatment pathways.

Impact and interest:

24 citations in Scopus
17 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 63962
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Depression, Adherence, Metabolic Syndrome, Dropout, Dietary intervention
DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.04.004
ISSN: 1532-1983
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Clinical Nutrition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Clinical Nutrition, [VOL 30, ISSUE 5, (2011)] DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.04.004
Deposited On: 22 Nov 2013 00:55
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2013 02:31

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