The Weekly Dose
October 1, 2020
Welcome to The Weekly Dose! Each week, we will review one scientific article, summarizing the research and providing key takeaways. Our goal in this endeavor is to make science understandable and accessible to all.
The study that we reviewed this week addresses the relationship between mental health and nutrition. In their scan of the literature on this topic, the authors of this study noted two important contributors to adverse mental health among women: obesity and food insecurity. This led them to wonder whether the two states (i.e., obesity and food insecurity) would interact in such a way as to amplify the adverse mental health effect. To test their hunch, the investigators analyzed data from a population survey called the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (CPES), 2001–2003, a nationally representative sample of over 20,000 adults (more than half of whom were female) that included information about participants’ mental health (recent Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) episodes), obesity (body mass data), and food insecurity (not having enough money to buy food). The authors applied a set of statistical models, the results of which both confirmed the earlier finding that obesity and food insecurity were independently associated with adverse mental health (in this case, MDD), and supported their hypothesis that food insecurity would magnify the impact of obesity. In fact, the statistical results suggested that obese females who also reported food insecurity were more than 3 times as likely to report a MDD episode in the last year than than those who did not report food insecurity. This finding accounted for participants’ race, age, education, and income, all of which have documented connections to mental health.
Key Takeaways:
  • Medical clinicians should monitor their female patients for signs that their body mass and financially-driven nutritional limitations are contributing to mental health problems.  
  • Diet advice and access to nutritious foods should be considered when seeking to improve mental health outcomes for females.
  • Public health experts should integrate mental-health costs to their estimates of the total cost of obesity. 
Who is VSC?

Vital Statistics Consulting (VSC) is a healthcare consultancy that specializes in the evaluation of policies and programs and provides independent, rigorous, innovative analysis to support data-driven recommendations that improve healthcare quality and organizational efficiency.
What's New at VSC?
VSC has been engaged by an existing client to help incorporate behavioral-change principles and evidence to a chronic-disease self-management app that could be released globally in 2021.

Our friends at Day Health Strategies are holding a one-day virtual summit on healthcare transformation as it relates to access and equity. We hope you will consider registering.
Employee Spotlight

Each week, The Weekly Dose will introduce readers to one of our team members.

This week, VSC Clinical Medicine Consultant, Dr. Ethan Chapin, is in the “spotlight.” We have asked him three questions, the answers to which reveal some of his professional and personal inspiration for working in the field of medicine.   

Which people and/or events influenced your decision to work in this field?

I don’t know if there were specific people or events that were responsible for my decision to enter medicine. It was more an accumulation of experience - primarily as an ocean lifeguard and EMT - and a distillation of several intellectual areas of interest, including biological sciences, human behavior, and psychology. Ultimately, medicine combines the two things I love most: people and biology. As a physician, I have the opportunity to interact with and help people while applying biology, the universal language that binds us. While in school, I realized that if I truly committed myself to one goal, nothing could stop me. Eventually, I came to terms with my personality and what my essential image of a doctor was; I understood and embraced my need for novelty and the process of discovery. My specialization, emergency medicine, suits my personality and desire for clinical novelty and complex problem-solving. I believe that doctors should be able to manage any situation, drawing on their knowledge and experience to help their fellow human beings manage suffering and uncertainty.

What was the answer you gave people as a child when asked what you want to be when you grow up? 

Believe it or not, I don’t remember. I had many interests and was very social, and consequently didn’t focus on what I wanted in the future. I do, however, remember that my kindergarten teacher proclaimed at graduation that I would be a politician. I’m still not sure whether that was a compliment or an insult.

What advice would you give yourself 3 years ago? 3 years from now? 

I would tell my younger self to be comfortable where you are in life’s journey; humility and a willingness to learn from mistakes will make you a more complete person in the long run than will the need to get everything right the first time. I would tell my older self to remember that the people with whom you interact may be at a different point in their journey than you are. You should therefore treat them with the patience and kindness that would have meant so much to you earlier in your own career.
We welcome your feedback! Tell us what you think of The Weekly Dose and feel free to send article suggestions for future editions. Contact us by e-mail at or call us at 1-877-VIT-STAT.