1. A healthy lifestyle defined by diet, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and BMI was associated with better mental health outcomes.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

It is well known that unhealthy lifestyles are associated with adverse health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and mental health disorders. While many studies have examined individual health behaviors and their effects on health, the synergistic effects of multiple lifestyle modifications on mental well-being have not been thoroughly investigated. In this Belgian-based cross-sectional study, 11611 Belgian residents were followed for various mental health and well-being outcomes including psychological distress, life satisfaction, depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and suicidal ideation. For each participant, a lifestyle score including diet, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption and BMI was calculated after a series of interviews. The results of this study showed that an increased lifestyle score was associated with lower odds of mental health outcomes assessed within this study. Specifically, a higher lifestyle score was associated with lower odds of psychological distress (OR 0.69, 95%CI 0.64-0.75) and low life satisfaction (OR 0.62, 95%CI 0.56-0.68). Additionally, the odds of a diagnosed depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or suicidal ideation were lower among individuals with a higher lifestyle score (OR 0.57, 95%CI 0.51-0.63; OR 0.63, 95%CI 0.57-0.69; and OR 0.63, 95%CI 0.55-0.72, respectively). In conclusion, this study suggests that having a healthier lifestyle, defined by diet, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, and BMI was associated with more positive mental health and well-being. This study reaffirms current knowledge that a poor lifestyle is associated with worse mental health outcomes. However, given the cross-sectional nature of this study, it is difficult to discern whether mental health is a consequence of poor lifestyle or whether challenges with mental health can present with an unhealthy lifestyle. Further longitudinal studies exploring this dynamic and confirming this association can be very beneficial.

Click to read the study in BMC Medicine

Image: PD

©2022 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. Inquire about licensing here. No article should be construed as medical advice and is not intended as such by the authors or by 2 Minute Medicine, Inc.