A ‘happy meal’ could be anything but, and fast food could be an express route to depression. A new study out of Spain, the universities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Grenada, has found that people who indulge in convenience comfort food are over 50% more likely to suffer depression than those who never or rarely consume junk food. A linear progression was also found, which means that the more junk food eaten the greater the likelihood of depression.
The study was almost black and white in its outcome. Those subjects who visited the fast-food joints most frequently and who ate out more often at the low-end of the market from commercial baked foodstuffs (READ Trans Fats), displaced most of the essential ingredients of a healthy diet. So they ate less fresh fruit, green vegetables, oily fish and unsaturated olive oil. This is obvious of course because junk food is a substitute for, rather than an addition to, other foods. However, the link to depression is surprisingly stark.
[box type=”important”]The key question, as yet unanswered is whether the junk food is a cause or a predictable symptom of mental illness. Cigarettes and working more than 45 hours a week were also characteristics of this vulnerable group or people. Manufactured bakery items stood out among the junk food as being especially strongly related to depression. Even when eaten in relatively small quantities.[/box]
This was a large-scale study under the auspices of the SUN project out of the University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking Program, with very nearly 9000 participants who had been diagnosed as depressive or who were taking antidepressants. The evidence is further support for earlier reports from this same tracking program. The earlier report found 657 new occurrences of depression among over 12,000 people studied.
This represented a 42% risk of association to poor diet. Somewhat less than the new study. The lead author of the new study recommends strongly that the consumption of this type of food should be more controlled.
The list of bad mood foods is depressingly long, at least for those who take comfort in the regular drive-in meal with burger, fries and a sugary drink. Think before you reach for the phone to order take-out pizza, or stop for a sidewalk hot dog. A good tip for healthier eating is to never do the marketing while you are hungry because the gap in your stomach leads you to load up the shopping cart with cakes, cookies and doughnuts, all of which the study points out are equally downers.
It is also the case that fast food consumption can be pushed up by bad feelings and the idea of comfort food has some foundation in science. Don’t forget that junk food consumption is also linked to the big disease of all time, poverty, because this is the predetermining factor in all lifestyle choices. It’s a complex picture, but the message is simple; eat more REAL food, mostly plants.