Study finds fast food consumption raises depression risk
Eating fast food will increase your risk of suffering from depression, a new Spanish study has found. Presented in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the finding shows a correlation between depression and the consumption of fast food, such as hamburgers, pizza and hot dogs, as well as commercial baked goods like croissants and doughnuts. Specifically, people eating fast foods and commercial baked goods have a 51% greater chance of developing depression than those who do not consume such foods.
Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at the University of Granada also identified a dose-response association. 'The more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression,' the Scientific Information and News Service (SINC) quotes lead author Almudena Sánchez-Villegas of University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as saying.
Subjects who consumed the most fast food and commercial baked goods are usually single, maintain poor dietary habits and are not very active. Other characteristics of these subjects are that they smoke and work more than 45 hours each week.
The team says the results are equally conclusive with respect to the consumption of commercial baked goods. 'Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression,' says Dr Sánchez-Villegas.
The study used data from the SUN project of the University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking programme. All 8 964 subjects taking part had never been diagnosed with depression and they had not been prescribed any antidepressants. The researchers assessed the participants for a period of around six years. A total of 493 subjects either were diagnosed with depression or were prescribed with antidepressants.
The results of this latest study further substantiate the results of the SUN project in 2011, which were published in the journal PLoS ONE. Of the 12 059 subjects evaluated by the SUN project team, 657 new cases of depression were identified. They found a 42% jump in the risk linked to fast food, which is lower than what the current study discovered.
'Although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being,' Dr Sánchez-Villegas says.
More than 121 million people around the globe are impacted by depression. Experts believe this high number makes depression one of the primary global causes of disability-adjusted life years. Countries with low- and medium-income levels report depression as being the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years.
But not enough information about how diet influences developing depressive disorders exists. Studies in the past indicated that certain nutrients have a preventive role, such as omega-3 fatty acids, group B vitamins and olive oil. Data also suggest that a healthy diet, like the popular Mediterranean diet, is linked to a lower risk of developing depression.
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Data Source Provider: Public Health Nutrition; University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Document Reference: Sánchez-Villegas, A. et al., 'Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression', Public Health Nutrition, 2012. doi:10.1017/S1368980011001856
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Food; Life Sciences; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research