For people on a healthy diet, the idea of fast food can be depressing. New research shows that people who eat a lot of fast food are twice as likely to suffer from depression. The link between fast food and depression is strong, but does eating fast food lead to depression, or vice versa?
The fast food/depression study
Previous studies have linked the consumption of trans fats to depression. New research suggests that the consumption of fast food and commercial baked goods, common sources of trans fat, increases one’s risk of developing clinical depression.
A new report published in the journal “Public Health Nutrition” describes an analysis of data from a study called the SUN Project (University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking Program). Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada in Spain evaluated a sample consisting of 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants.
After six months, 493 were diagnosed with depression or started to take antidepressants. Those who regularly ate fast food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression. What’s more, researchers observed a “dose-response relationship,” meaning that the more fast food consumed led to a higher rate of depression. Even those who ate just small amounts of fast food or commercial baked goods (like doughnuts or croissants) were more susceptible to developing depression.
A lifestyle aspect to the fast food/depression link emerged. Eating more fast food may increase risk of depression by leading to poor health in general. The subjects who ate the most fast food and commercial baked goods were single, sedentary and had poor dietary habits. Fast food displaced healthier fare such as fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. The fast food eaters were also more likely to smoke and work more than 45 hours a week.
Food that prevent depression
The results of the study imply that eating Big Macs probably won’t lead people into depression. But people who are depressed will likely choose a Big Mac over healthier fare. If you’re battling depression, consider other studies that have shown nutrients such as B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil can help prevent depression. Research has also linked a Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of depression.