Background This study examined the association between traditional Japanese dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in Japanese workers, employing large-scale samples, considering socioeconomic status (SES) and job stress factors. Methods A cross-sectional study of 2266 Japanese employees aged 21-65 years from all areas of Japan was conducted as part of the Japanese Study of Health, Occupation and Psychosocial factors related Equity (J-HOPE). Habitual diet was assessed by FFQ (BDHQ). The depression degree and job stress factors (job demand, job control, and worksite support) were measured by K6 and Job Content Questionnaire. Results Participants with high scores for the balanced Japanese dietary pattern were significantly less likely to show probable mood/anxiety disorders (K6≥9) with multivariate adjustment including SES and job stress factors (odds ratio=0.66 [0.51-0.86], trend P=0.002). Other dietary patterns were not associated with depressive symptoms. Even after stratification by job stress factors, the Japanese dietary pattern was consistently protective against depressive symptoms. Furthermore, a highly significant difference between the first and third tertiles of the dietary pattern was observed in participants with active strain (high demand and high control) with low worksite supports (8.5 vs. 5.2, P=0.011). Limitations Female participant sample was relatively small. Conclusions Japanese dietary pattern consistently related to low depressive symptoms in this large-scale cohort of Japanese workers, even after adjusting for SES and job stress factors. The protective impact is especially strong for workers with active strain and low support. Making better use of traditional dietary patterns may facilitate reducing social disparities in mental health.
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