Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dmitri Poltavski


The present study investigated the effects of demographic variables (e.g. country of residence and socioeconomic status) and nutritional variables (e.g. dietary diversity and micronutrient content) on anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as subjective health self-rating. Prior research suggests that a variety of demographic and nutritional factors influence chronic stress, which can cause systemic inflammation and lead to various cardiovascular-related diseases. Participants (USA=41; Non-USA= 58) were recruited via an online platform and completed demographic questionnaires and a 24-hour dietary recall. Results indicated that food accessibility emerged as the strongest predictor, and was associated with anxiety, depression, and combined mood symptoms. Results from our study support prior research that suggests food accessibility significantly influences physical and mental health beyond racial and ethnic disparities observed in the USA. Limitations to our study included issues analyzing international foods, not assessing exercise adequately, and failing to account for potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food accessibility. Future researchers should take directions such as spending more resources conducting more accurate dietary recalls, assessing risk factors such as familial history, and accounting for the effects of probiotics on gastrointestinal health.

Keywords: dietary diversity, nutrition, micronutrients, systemic inflammation, chronic stress, international, anxiety, depression, mood