Junk Food Linked With Increased Depression Risk: Study

A new study shows that junk food may have effects beyond expanding your waistline and upping your sodium levels -- it might also be sabotaging your mental health.

A new study in the journal Public Health Nutrition shows that regularly eating commercial baked goods -- including doughnuts and croissants -- as well as fast food -- pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs -- is linked with an increased depression risk.

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada found that the people who regularly eat these foods are also more likely to be more sedentary, smoke, eat other not-so-nutritious foods and work 45 or more hours a week.

"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," study researcher Almudena Sánchez-Villegas said in a statement.

The study included 8,964 people who didn't have depression (and weren't taking any antidepressant drugs) at the start of the study. Their depression statuses and diets were tracked for an average of six months.

At the end of the study period, 493 people were depressed or were taking antidepressants. The researchers found that the ones who ate the most junk food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression, compared with people who ate the least of these foods.

The Mayo Clinic reported on a previous study also showing a similar link. That study showed that people whose diets are high in fried foods, processed meats, desserts and high-fat dairy had an increased risk of depression symptoms, compared with people who eat lots of fruits, veggies and fish.

And earlier this year, a study in the journal PLoS ONE showed that there may be a link between eating trans fats -- common in a lot of junk foods -- and being irritable and aggressive.

The researchers of that study, from the University of California, San Diego, found that greater trans fats intake seemed to predict whether a person was more aggressive. The finding held true even after taking into account factors like sex, age and ethnicity.

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