Does fast food cause depression?

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Study found a link between an unhealthy diet and the occurrence of depression

A joint study by scientists from the Universities of Las Palmas, Granada and Navarre found a connection between the occurrence of depression and the excessive consumption of fast food products. "Anyone who eats a lot of fast food increases the risk of depression by up to 50 percent," said the research consortium's summary in the journal "Public Health Nutrition Journal.

In contrast to the predominantly healthy diet, the risk of depression is increased by up to 50 percent. There is a context between the diet and the occurrence of depressive disorders. The researchers came to this result on the basis of a study with around 9000 subjects.

Observational study showed unhealthy eating
At the beginning of the study, the participants showed no psychological or physical suffering. In addition, they did not take drugs such as antidepressants or psychiatric drugs. The study participants of different ages and genders were examined periodically over a period of six months. The researchers focused on diet, health and lifestyle. Over the course of the study period, 493 people developed manifested depression. In the case of the sick, the data already determined were compared with those who did not suffer from a depressive episode. "In comparison, those diagnosed with depression consumed significantly more fast food or industrial baked goods than the rest," said study author Almudena Sanchez-Villegas. In particular, the consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish by the mentally ill was largely avoided.

More precise studies have to explain the context
The study authors write whether a causal connection actually exists, but still has to be “examined more closely”. However, there are studies that indicate that diets such as the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian food, foods with vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil have a special protective mechanism. However, the researchers emphasized that depression alone cannot trigger depression.

Psychiatrist Manfred Wolfersdorf of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology looks at the study results in a somewhat more differentiated manner. In his opinion, fast food does not cause depression. "But the lifestyle, which includes nutrition, can be a factor in the disease," said Dr. Wolfersdorf. Some experts are more of the opinion that the disease itself favors the unhealthy diet. Depressed people are less concerned with preparation and selection of their daily dishes and therefore also eat unhealthy. (sb)

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