The link between fast food and depression confirmed

March 30, 2012

According to a recent study headed by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, eating commercial baked goods (fairy cakes, croissants, doughnuts, etc.) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza) is linked to depression.

Published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, the results reveal that of , compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop .

Furthermore, a dose-response relationship was observed. In other words this means that "the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression," explains Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, lead author of the study, to SINC.

The study demonstrates that those participants who eat the most fast food and commercial baked goods are more likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits, which include eating less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. Smoking and working more than 45 hours per week are other prevalent characteristics of this group.

A long-term study

With regard to the consumption of commercial , the results are equally conclusive. "Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression," as the university researcher from the Canary Islands points out.

The study sample belonged to the SUN Project (University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking Program). It consisted of 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. They were assessed for an average of six months, and 493 were diagnosed with depression or started to take antidepressants.

This new data supports the results of the SUN project in 2011, which were published in the PLoS One journal. The project recorded 657 new cases of depression out of the 12,059 people analysed over more than six months. A 42% increase in the risk associated with fast food was found, which is lower than that found in the current study.

Sánchez-Villegas concludes that "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."

The impact of diet on mental health

Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. This figure makes it one of the main global causes of disability-adjusted life year. Further still, in countries with low and medium income it is the leading cause.

However, little is known about the role that diet plays in developing depressive disorders. Previous studies suggest that certain nutrients have a preventative role. These include group B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil. Furthermore, a healthy diet such as that enjoyed in the Mediterranean has been linked to a lower risk of developing depression.

Explore further: Can a Mediterranean diet help prevent colon cancer?

More information: Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, Estefanía Toledo, Jokin de Irala, Miguel Ruiz-Canela, Jorge Pla-Vidal and Miguel A Martínez-González. "Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression". Public Health Nutrition: page 1 of 9 doi:10.1017/S1368980011001856

Related Stories

The traditional Mediterranean diet protects against diabetes

May 30, 2008

The traditional Mediterranean diet provides substantial protection against type 2 diabetes, according to a study published on bmj.com today. The Mediterreanean diet is rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, ...

Mediterranean diet associated with reduced risk of depression

October 5, 2009

Individuals who follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern -- rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish -- appear less likely to develop depression, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of General ...

Processed, high-fat foods linked with depression

November 2, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- People who eat a diet laden with processed and high-fat foods may put themselves at greater risk of depression, according to UCL (University College London) research published today.

Eating poorly can make us depressed

January 26, 2011

Researchers from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have demonstrated that the ingestion of trans-fats and saturated fats increase the risk of suffering depression, and that olive oil, on the other ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.