Self-initiated dietary changes reduce general somatic and mental symptoms in a relatively healthy Dutch population

Anouk E. M. Willems, Martina Sura-de Jong, Andre P. van Beek, Gertjan van Dijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The risk for development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can be predicted by somatic or mental symptoms and dietary alterations aimed at improvement of those symptoms could potentially delay development of NCDs. The goal of this study was to identify whether self-initiated dietary changes could reduce mental and somatic symptoms in relatively healthy individuals. Participants (n = 494) recruited from the Dutch population filled out weekly questionnaires on dietary intake, somatic and mental symptoms and physical activity at baseline and during dieting for four weeks. There was a significant reduction in mental and somatic symptoms, body weight, and waist circumference at four weeks, whereas physical activity remained unchanged. Five dietary patterns were identified by principal component analysis labelled "Processed foods", "Animal source foods", "Wheel of Five", "Traditional Dutch", and "Party". Reduction in mental symptoms was correlated to increased physical activity and increased intake of Wheel of Five foods. Reduction in somatic symptoms was correlated to body weight loss and less Processed foods, more Wheel of Five foods, and lower intake of fat and protein. Higher intake of protein and fat and lower intake of carbohydrates, however, were correlated to body weight loss. In conclusion this research showed that a self-initiated dietary change can lead to a significant reduction of mental and somatic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102004
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2022


  • Diet
  • Non -communicable diseases (NCD)
  • Mental symptoms
  • Somatic symptoms
  • FAT

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