Baked goods and fast-foods linked to depression: Study

Baked goods and fast-foods linked to depression: Study

Consumption of fast food and commercial baked goods are linked to an increased risk of depression, according to new research.

The study – published in the journal Public Health Nutrition – reports that eating commercial baked goods such as fairy cakes, and croissants, and fast foods like hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza, is linked to an increase in the risk of developing depression.

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, both in Spain, found that people who consumed the most fast food and baked goods were 37% more likely to become depressed over a six-year period than people with the lowest consumption.

Furthermore, the Spanish research team revealed a dose-response relationship between the two. In other words:"The more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression," explained Almudena, lead author of the study.

However, the UK’s NHS choices service noted that the study cannot conclusively show that such foods directly cause depression. 
“For example, it is just as plausible that diet and depression are both the result of a common factor. Therefore, it's too early to rebrand the burger and fries as an "unhappy meal",” it wrote.

But Sánchez-Villegas points out that eating even small quantities of baked goods “is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression."

Study details

The research team used data from 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants.

Sánchez-Villegas and her team reported that participants with the highest consumption of fast food and baked goods were more likely to be single, younger, less active and have worse dietary habits than participants with the lowest consumption – and reported a 37% increase in risk between the lowest and highest consumption groups.

The researchers said their results demonstrate “a positive dose-response relationship between the consumption of fast food and the risk of depression”. They also said that “consumption of commercial baked goods was also positively associated to depressive disorders.”

However, the NHS choices service again warned that although the study found an association, a causative effect cannot be claimed, arguing that it is equally possible that a tendency to consume fast foods and baked goods, and develop depression could stem from a common factor.

“Even though this was a prospective study, it cannot conclusively show that eating lots of hamburgers, sausages and pizza causes depression,” said the NHS.

“For example, participants with the highest fast food consumption were generally all single, younger and less active, which may have influenced both their diet and their risk of depression.”

Sánchez-Villegas added that although more studies are necessary to investigate such links, “the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being."

Source: Public Health Nutrition
Issue 15, March 2012 15,  Pages 424-432, doi: 10.1017/S1368980011001856
“Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression”
Authors: A. Sánchez-Villegas, E. Toledo, J. de Irala, M. Ruiz-Canela, J. Pla-Vidal, M.A. Martínez-González

Related News

Greece tops the fat list, finds EU study

Greece tops the fat list, finds EU study

Mental health group shares herbal treatment strategies

Diet and depression: New studies should follow CVD research models

Diet and depression: New studies should follow CVD research models, researchers argue

Soda linked to depression while coffee tied to lower risk

Hold the soda? Study links carbonated drinks to depression while coffee is tied to lower risk

Girls are 80% more likely to use calorie information on menus.

Kids use menu calorie info, but fast food junkies tune out, study finds

Good moods and positive emotions might also play a role in triggering overindulgence, say the researchers.

Good mood food? Positive emotions and moods are also an important trigger for indulgence, says study

Fast food has been negatively implicated in conditions such as depression, asthma and food allergies.(©

Grain of truth in fast food & infertility link, study states

The fibre content of low-GI foods have been attributed to the foods protective effect against the onset of depression. ©iStock

High-GI carb intake may trigger a depressive low, study finds

Mood and behaviour triggered by food

Fish for fighting depression

Not enough vitamin D may boost depression risk

Not enough vitamin D may boost depression risk

Related Products

See more related products

Comments (6)

kellie@foodtoglow - 19 Apr 2012 | 04:41

Time-Poor Choices

I am in agreement with 'comfort food' as to an associative link between comfort eating and depression. I would add that people who consider themselves time-poor also make poor food choices that help with time but also give quick, short-lasting energy. Such foods are often also at least partially addictive in the broadest sense of the word. Problematically we are hard-wired to crave sugar and fat but don't need it in the way our ancestors once did. Those who actively take the time to nourish their body with healthy food are reinforcing a positive image of themselves as deserving of health and nurturing. Hard to do all of the time, especially with confused health messages and junk food marketing tactics.

19-Apr-2012 at 16:41 GMT

Odddlycrunchy - 13 Apr 2012 | 06:01

Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)

This is no news to readers of the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, or followers of the Weston A. Price Nourishing Traditions, or those on Paleo or anti-candida diets. Sugars and starches wreak havoc on our digestive systems, and depression is just one of hundreds of chronic diseases caused by our Standard American Diet (SAD).

13-Apr-2012 at 18:01 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.