Study: Junk food consumption contributes to depression

"Ultra-processed foods" can lead to greater "mentally unhealthy days," researchers claim.

Updated: August 27, 2022 - 2:44pm

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A study by Florida researchers suggests that the consumption of highly processed snack foods can contribute to mental conditions such as depression and anxiety, a result the scientists say has "significant" implications for public health.

A study of more than 10,000 U.S. adults indicated that individuals who consumed the most ultra-processed foods as compared with those who consumed the least amount had "statistically significant increases in the adverse mental health symptoms of mild depression, 'mentally unhealthy days' and 'anxious days,'" Florida Atlantic University said in a press release.

"More than 70 percent of packaged foods in the U.S. are classified as ultra-processed food and represent about 60 percent of all calories consumed by Americans," study author Eric Hecht said in the release. "Given the magnitude of exposure to and effects of ultra-processed food consumption, our study has significant clinical and public health implications." 

The scientists said in the release that "ultra-processed foods ... contain little or no whole food."

"They result from extensive ‘physical, biological, and chemical processes' that create food products that are deficient in original and natural food," they said.

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