Depression is linked to eating fast food, like hamburgers and pizzas as well as commercially produced cakes, research finds.
People who eat fast food — when compared to those that eat none — have a 51% higher depression risk, the scientists found.
There is also a so-called ‘dose-response effect’ for fast food.
Dr Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, the lead author of the study, explained:
“…the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression.”
The research showed that those eating the most fast food and commercial baked food were more likely to be:
- less active,
- working over 45 hours per week.
Fairy cakes, doughnuts and croissants also showed a strong link to depression, said Dr Sánchez-Villegas:
“Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression.”
The study involved 8,964 people who were followed for an average of 6 months.
Of these, 493 started taking antidepressants during the study or were diagnosed with depression.
The results are in line with a previous study which found that eating fast food was linked to a 42% increase in depression risk.
Dr Sánchez-Villegas said:
“…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.”
Certain nutrients are thought to have a preventative effect on depression.
These include B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet has also been repeatedly linked to lower levels of depression.
It is more difficult to get these vital nutrients from fast food.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition (Sánchez-Villegas et al., 2012).