The body of evidence suggesting that junk food is bad for you has expanded to include depression among the list of poor diet-associated illnesses.
Junk food didn't have a great reputation to start when it comes to health now a study suggests that it could lead to depression.
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The study, published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition found that people who ate fast food on a regular basis were 51 percent more likely to become depressed than those who did not consume it regularly, or at all.
"The more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression," said lead researcher Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
The researchers also found that people who regularly ate fast food and processed foods, including commercially baked goods, were generally less active; many also being smokers, single, and people who worked more than 45 hours a week.
Prior to the study, none of the nearly 9,000 participants had been diagnosed with depression. But after just six months of assessment, 493 were diagnosed with the mental illness or began taking anti-depressants.
"Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression," said Dr Sanchez-Villegas. "Although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being."
The findings of the research significantly raise the stakes from a study previously published in in the journal PLoS One, which linked the consumption of fast food with a 42 percent risk of becoming depressed.
In Australia approximately one million adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year. On average, around one in six people will experience depression in their lifetime, making it one of the most common among all mental health problems.
If you, or someone close to you, suffers from depression, you can seek help from a doctor or an organisation specialising in mental illness such as Beyond Blue or call their info line on 1300 22 4636.
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