Personal health habits and mental health in a national probability sample

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33 Scopus citations


This investigation examined the relationship between six of seven Alameda County health habits and four dietary practices and three indices of mental health in a probability sample of 2,436 adults 20 to 64 years of age, residing in the coterminous United States. The sample consisted of all respondents to Wave 2 of the National Survey of Personal Health Practices and Consequences conducted in 1980. I found a strong relationship between poor health habits and risk of depressed mood and 'nervous breakdown.' The magnitude and direction of the association varied by sex, age group, the specific habit examined, and the measure of mental health used. For women, infrequent participation in active sports consistently predicted mental health problems, but was not important for men. In young men, I found no association between health habits and mental health. Dietary practices and mental health generally showed a negative association, especially among men, for whom those reporting good practices had a significantly higher risk of nervous breakdown than those reporting poor practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-437
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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