There is a need for the development of effective universal preventive approaches to the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety, at a population level. Poor diet, physical inactivity and smoking have long been recognized as key contributors to the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases. However, there are now an increasing number of studies suggesting that the same modifiable lifestyle behaviors are also risk factors for common mental disorders. In this paper we point to the emerging data regarding lifestyle risk factors for common mental disorders, with a particular focus on and critique of the newest evidence regarding diet quality. On the basis of this most recent evidence, we consequently argue for the inclusion of depression and anxiety in the ranks of the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases influenced by habitual lifestyle practices. We believe that it is both feasible and timely to begin to develop effective, sustainable, population-level prevention initiatives for the common mental illnesses that build on the established and developing approaches to the noncommunicable somatic diseases.
Keywords: Anxiety, etiology, common mental disorders, diet, depression, lifestyle, physical activity, prevention, risk, smoking