Currenti W, Godos J, Castellano S, Caruso G, Ferri R, Caraci F, Grosso G, Galvano F (2021) Chronobiol. Int. 38:1507-1516.

Pubmed: doi: 10.1080/07420528.2021.1932998


In recent years, mental disorders have represented a relevant public health problem due to their deleterious effect on quality of life and the difficulty of timely diagnosis. The growing trends have been shown to be highly influenced by modern society, unhealthy lifestyle and harmful dietary habits. Not only the specific foods or dietary patterns have been hypothesized to play a role on mental health; also, temporal regulation of feeding and fasting has emerged as an innovative strategy to prevent and treat mental health disease. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the association between time-restricted feeding (TRF) and mental health outcomes including perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and sleep quality assessed in a cohort of southern Italian adults. Demographic and dietary characteristics of 1,572 adults living in southern Italy were analyzed. Food frequency questionnaires were used to calculate dietary intakes; participants were also asked what time, on average, they consumed their meals to calculate the eating window of time and identify those eating within 8 hours or less. Logistic regression analyses were performed to test the association between mental health outcomes. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, including adherence to the Mediterranean diet and having breakfast/dinner, no associations were found between TRF and mental health outcomes; however, when performing the analyses by age groups, individuals older than 70 years having a feeding time window of 8 hours were less likely to have signs of mental health distress [odds ratio (OR) = 0.14, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03-0.65] compared to those having no feeding time restriction independently of diet quality; notably, adjusting for having breakfast nullified the association (OR = 0.13, 95% CI: 0.02-1.18), while adjusting for having dinner did not change it (OR = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.03-0.67). No further associations were found for specific mental health outcomes explored separately. In conclusion, restricting the daily time feeding window is associated with lower signs of mental health distress in individuals older than 70 years. Albeit preliminary, these findings on elderly individuals require further investigation using prospective design and an amended approach to control for fasting.