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Association between dietary and suicidal behaviors in adolescents in Korea based on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2015-2020)
Youngrong Lee, Ye Jin Jeon, Jee-Seon Shim, Sun Jae Jung
Epidemiol Health. 2022;44:e2022033.   Published online March 12, 2022
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDFSupplementary Material
This study explored the association between dietary and suicidal behaviors of Korean adolescents and investigated differences in this association in children of immigrant parents.
The sample (n=368,138) was collected from the Korea Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2015 to 2020. Participants who agreed to provide family information (n=313,689) were classified according to their parents’ nationality. The study variables were 11 self-reported dietary behaviors, and their composite dietary behaviors (i.e., nutrient deprivation and unhealthy food consumption) that resulted from principal component analysis. The association between study variables and suicide-related outcomes (i.e., suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts) was analyzed by multiple logistic regression with adjustment for covariates. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.
Participants who skipped key meals and foods were more likely to have attemped suicide (aOR [95% CI]: skipping breakfast ≥5 days/wk, 1.28 [1.21 to 1.35]; consuming fruits <1 times/wk: 1.42 [1.32 to 1.52]; consuming vegetables <1 times/wk: 1.72 [1.53 to 1.93]; consuming milk <3 times/wk: 1.07 [0.99 to 1.16]). The associations were prominent in third culture kids (TCKs) (aOR [95% CI]: 2.23 [1.61 to 3.09]; 2.32 [1.61 to 3.35]; 2.63 [1.50 to 4.60]; 1.69 [1.09 to 2.63], respectively). Participants who consumed unhealthy foods (fast food, caffeinated and sugary drinks) more frequently were more likely to have attempted suicide (aOR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.38 to 1.73). This association was also more prominent in TCKs (aOR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.08 to 4.01).
Our findings indicate a positive association between unfavorable dietary behaviors and outcomes related to suicide, and this association appears to be notable in adolescents with immigrant parents.
Korean summary
• 한국 청소년의 식이 행동과 자살 행동 사이의 연관성과 한국인 부모와 이민자 부모 자녀에서 위의 연관성 차이를 조사하였다. • 청소년의 결식 빈도 증가, 과일, 야채, 우유 섭취 감소는 자살 행동과 유의한 연관성이 있었으며 이민자 부모를 둔 청소년에서 연관성의 크기가 더 컸다. • 패스트푸드, 카페인, 가당 음료, 인스턴트 음식을 더 자주 섭취하는 청소년은 자살을 시도할 가능성이 더 높았으며 이민자 부모를 둔 청소년에서 더 큰 연관성을 보였다.
Key Message
The study found positive associations between undesirable dietary behaviors (e.g., skipping breakfast, increased consumption of fast food or instant food product) and outcomes related to suicide (i.e., suicide ideation, planning, and attempt) in Korean adolescents, and these associations appear to be prominent in adolescents with immigrant parents than those with Korean parents.


Citations to this article as recorded by  
  • Trends in health behaviors and mental health among Korean adolescents in Korea over 5 years, 2017–2021: focusing on the comparisons before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
    Mi-Sun Lee, Dong Jun Kim, Hooyeon Lee
    Frontiers in Public Health.2023;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Association between body shape misperception and unhealthy eating behaviors among Korean adolescents
    Yejin Kim, Bomgyeol Kim, Vasuki Rajaguru, Sang Gyu Lee, Tae Hyun Kim
    Nutrition Research and Practice.2023; 17(6): 1143.     CrossRef

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