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Comfort Food?
Thursday, 24 May 2012 15:31
Granada, Spain, April 2012 – How does that burger make you feel? Full? Satisfied? Sad? A new study from the University of Granada suggests there may be a correlation between eating fast food and developing depression.

Various nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, are directly linked to mental health. However, there is little to no research of any link between fast food or processed pastries and mental health.

Recently, the researchers in Spain began experimenting with that relationship. The study, which lasted an average of 6.2 years, followed 8,964 participants, measuring their intake of processed food. Chosen participants included those with no history of depression or usage of anti-depressants. They were also free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.  

Each participant completed a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study. The researchers then divided the study population into five groups, called quintiles, based on the amount of each food group the respondents usually consumed. The two main food groups measured were fast food and commercial baked goods. The fast food measurement included hamburgers, sausages and pizza. The commercial baked goods sample consisted of muffins, doughnuts and croissants.

The researchers also collected additional data on other variables they thought might influence the relationship between eating habits and depression. These included age, sex, Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking status, physical activity level, total energy intake and healthy food consumption. Adjustments were then made for the influence of these variables during the analysis.

Results showed the group with the highest level of processed food consumption had a 37% increased risk of developing depression compared to the lowest consumption group. Participants who not only ate more fast food, but who also were single, less active, and who smoked and worked longer hours, were at higher risk of developing depression.

However, results indicate only a relationship between eating fatty foods and developing depression. The study did not specifically determine whether it was the fast food, or the lifestyle, that caused depression. It proved only a relationship between the two.

So, are you depressed because you eat pizza, or do you eat pizza because you are depressed?

(For more information on this study, visit: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8352058&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1368980011001856)

SOURCE: Public Health Nutrition

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