Happy Meals can Make you sad

Diets high in fast food and sweets can lead to risk of depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Job loss. Death in the family. Medical condition. Doctors have known forever that these conditions often correlate to depression, but now the experts have found another link: fast food.

Researchers in Spain have come up with the mouth-watering conclusion that people who consume a high diet of fast food, such as hot dogs, pizza, and hamburgers or commercial baked goods such as fairy cakes, croissants, and doughnuts were 51 percent more likely to be depressed than those who ate little.

"Talk to your doctor before going on a diet."

The study, headed by scientists from University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, sampled 8,964 people who had never been diagnosed with depression or taken anti-depressants. The participants were studied for six months.

A relationship to the amount of fast food consumed and the severity of depression was also observed. “The more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression,” says Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, lead author of the study.

Researchers also determined that those who ate the most fast food and commercial baked goods were most likely to be single, less active, and have poor dietary habits. People who smoke and work more than 45 hours a week made up a significant number of people who were depressed in this study.

These findings back up the results of an earlier study published in 2011 in the PLoS One journal (publication of peer reviewed science), which studied 12,059 people and found a 42 percent increase in the risk of depression associated with a high intake in fast food.

Depression affects more than 121 million people worldwide, and yet very little is understood about the role diet plays in this disorder. It has been thought that certain nutrients such as B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and olive oil have been linked to a lower risk of developing depression.

This study was published in the Public Health Nutrition journal in March 2012. Its authors reported no financial conflicts.

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Review Date: 
April 3, 2012
Last Updated:
April 4, 2012