4 years ago

Childhood hunger and depressive symptoms in adulthood: Findings from a population-based study

Several studies have linked childhood hunger to an increased risk for later depression. However, as yet, there has been little research on this relation in adults of all ages or whether there are sex differences in this association. The current study examined these issues using data from a national population-based sample. Methods Data were analyzed from 5095 adults aged 25–84 collected during the Estonian Health Interview Survey 2006. Information was obtained on the frequency of going to bed hungry in childhood and on depressive symptoms using the Emotional State Questionnaire (EST-Q). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between hunger and depression while controlling for other demographic, socioeconomic and health-related variables. Results In a fully adjusted model, going to bed hungry in childhood either sometimes or often was associated with significantly increased odds for depressive symptoms. When the analysis was stratified by sex the association was more evident in men where any frequency of childhood hunger was linked to adult depression while only women who had experienced hunger often had higher odds for depressive symptoms in the final model. Limitations Data on childhood hunger were retrospectively reported and may have been affected by recall bias. We also lacked information on potentially relevant variables such as other childhood adversities that might have been important for the observed associations. Conclusion Childhood hunger is associated with an increased risk for depressive symptoms among adults. Preventing hunger in childhood may be important for mental health across the life course.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0165032717319183

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