‘Comfort food’ not so Comforting: Study finds Depression and Junk Food Linked

A new study reveals that consumption of junk food is linked to an increased risk of depression.  In the study, published in the March 2012 issue of Public Health Nutrition, Spanish researchers uncovered evidence that consumption of foods such as, doughnuts, croissants, cakes, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza are linked to depression.

According to the study’s results, individuals who consume these types of fast food items or baked goods have a 51 percent greater chance of developing depression. Researchers also observed that the more ‘comfort food’ consumed, the greater the risk of depression.

The study observed nearly 9,000 participants, who had never been diagnosed with depression.  However, some subjects in the study engaged in lifestyle factors that increased the risk of depression – low activity levels, excessive work schedules and smoking. The study lasted six months and that time, almost 500 participants were diagnosed with depression or began to take anti-depressant medication.

These findings confirm the results of an analysis study, published in 2012, suggesting that consumption of comfort-style foods are linked to depression.

ABCNews.com spoke with several experts, who suggest that more studies need to be done to determine exactly how the two are linked. One expert from Yale said, “Higher intake of fast food may very well increase risks of depression by causing poor health in general. But depression may also increase fast food intake….it may be that people with depression are turning [fast food] for relief.”

Other experts made it clear that people should not fear that consumption of cake at a party or swinging through the drive-thru once a month will instantly give you the blues. Keith Ayoob, a registered dietician and associate professor in New York told ABCNews.com, “This is reflective of a lifestyle with many unhealthy aspects. It does not mean that if you go eat a hamburger you are going to become depressed. It is a reflection of depression, not the cause.”

More studies need to be completed that control for other lifestyle factors that can cause depression and to determine if it is truly to comfort foods causing the depression or depression causing increased consumption.

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