Can Eating Junk Food Trigger Depression?

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According to researchers from Victoria, Australia, the more junk food a teenager eats, the more likely they are to be depressed and this low mood isn’t only about normal hormonal changes during puberty.

Dr Felice Jacka and her colleagues at the University of Melbourne reviewed data collected by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute during 2006 on over 7,000 young people.

The researchers didn’t go as far as saying that junk food actually caused depression but they did find a clear link between depression and diet.

Those who ate a healthy diet scored less on the depression levels than those who ate an unhealthy diet, and that was after taking into consideration other factors such as the family environment and social status, education and so on.

This isn’t the first study that has found that eating junk food can contribute to depression; a joint British and French study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry analysed food and mood data from over 3,000 men and women around London.

Each person was asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire which asked them to rate how often they had eaten a particular food portion in the previous year on a scale of ‘never’ to ‘more than six times a day’.

The researchers identified two dietary patterns, the ‘whole food’ pattern and the ‘processed food’ pattern. Five yeas later the same participants were asked to complete another questionnaire, this time about depression.

The results revealed that those who ate more processed foods were more likely to have depression whereas those who ate more whole foods were less likely to suffer from depression.

“Our finding shows a strong association between diet and depressive symptoms after controlling for a large range of socio-demographic factors, and for health behaviours such as smoking, physical activity, and health status” said Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, an epidemiologist with the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Montpellier, France and lead author of the study.

Now although we all can enjoy the odd packet of crisps, bar of chocolate, cakes and biscuits or microwavable meal from time to time without any harm, over consumption of processed foods will not only have an impact on your weight and physical health, but the research is also pointing to it having a negative impact on your mental health too.

Where junk food is concerned it seems to be a case of short term pleasure but long term pain.

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