Supplements Did Not Prevent Depression in Study of Obese Adults Interview with:

Prof. Marjolein Visser PhDProfessor of Healthy AgingHead section Nutrition and HealthDepartment of Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdam Public Health research institute

Dr. Visser

Prof. Marjolein Visser PhD
Professor of Healthy Aging
Head section Nutrition and Health
Department of Health Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam Public Health research institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: More than 40 million Europeans experience a major depressive disorder. One in ten men, and one in five women suffer from clinical depression at least once during their lifetime. Depression is one of the most prevalent and disabling disorders in the EU.

Given the increasing prevalence of depression, more people are actively searching for ways to decrease their risk through lifestyle modification, but are often overwhelmed by confusing and contradictory information.

The MooDFOOD prevention trial is the largest randomized clinical trial to study the effects of nutritional strategies on the prevention of major depressive disorder. Over 1000 overweight or obese participants identified as being at elevated risk for depression but who were not currently depressed, from four European countries -the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain, took part in the study. Participants were randomized to either take nutritional supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, selenium or to a pill placebo, and half of participants also received a behavioral lifestyle intervention intended to change dietary behaviors and patterns. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Daily intake of nutritional supplements over a year did not effectively prevent the onset of a major depressive episode. The nutritional supplements were not better than placebo. The therapeutic sessions aimed at making changes towards a healthy dietary behavior did also not convincingly prevent depression. However, in the group of participants who attended a recommended number of therapeutic sessions, there was some evidence that it prevented depressive episodes. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Meta-analyses of observational studies suggest that eating a healthy diet, e.g. a Mediterranean style diet, is associated with less depressive symptoms. Although our study suggests that in the most compliant participants an effect on depression was observed, a carefully designed dietary intervention study (preferably with all meals provided) in persons at higher risk of developing depression is needed to confirm causality. 


Bot M, Brouwer IA, Roca M, et al. Effect of Multinutrient Supplementation and Food-Related Behavioral Activation Therapy on Prevention of Major Depressive Disorder Among Overweight or Obese Adults With Subsyndromal Depressive SymptomsThe MooDFOOD Randomized Clinical TrialJAMA. 2019;321(9):858–868. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0556






The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.