Study Reveals That Fast Food May Contribute To Teen Depression

Lifestyle | By Bruce Bridges | September 6, 2019

There are many reasons people have issues with fast food. As popular as it is in the United States, there is an equal amount of backlash against it from people who cite how unhealthy it is, as well as how addictive it can be because of the perfect storm of salt, sweet, and savory.

While there are inherent dangers with fast food, it is the number one choice for those with very little money, or those who don't have to worry about the health issues fast food may cause just yet. I'm talking about teens. Teens can eat twelve ice cream sundaes and still feel fine, so why not?

The truth is, even though teens can be like human garbage disposals with their eating habits, too much fast food is still a bad thing. There might be new reasons why fast food is bad specifically for teens as well. Studies are linking fast food with teen depression, so put down the Big Mac and read on.

Depression Linked to Fast Food

There are many issues plaguing teens these days, from the fear of school shootings, to online bullying, and even the dangers of vaping. Some of these problems are classic and some of them are brand new to the digital age we live in. There is one threat to teens that has been growing steadily though: depression. Teens and preteens are more susceptible to depression than ever before. A new study might have an answer as to why.

A study was done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that pins the blame on diets of low plants and high fast food. The lead author, Sylvie Mrug said, "High sodium, you've got to think of highly processed food. This includes fast food, frozen meals and unhealthy snacks." Low potassium indicates that the person isn't getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.

50% Increase in Depressive Episodes in Teens

While there can be many factors that trigger depression, diet is a big one. Lisa Drayer is a health and nutrition contributor for CNN. She says, "The study findings make sense, as potassium-rich foods are healthy foods. So, if adolescents include more potassium-rich foods in their diet, they will likely have more energy and feel better overall - which can lead to a better sense of well-being and improved mental health."

Between 2005 and 2017, the rate of depression among teenagers rose more than fifty percent. Diet can certainly be a contributing factor to depression, but experts believe that other factors could be just as affecting, such as social media use, fear of climate change, and lack of proper sleep. Despite these other factors, other studies have also linked depression to diets with high processed food.

An Issue Affecting Low Income Households

Studies conducted across the United States, France, Spain, Australia, Iran, and Greece have shown that those with a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and low processed food had lower rates of depression. This most recent study only targeted 85 middle schoolers, mostly of African-American descent. The subjects were also from low income households since those households usually have to resort to eating processed food because of the cost and convenience. Some low income neighborhoods don't even have fresh food grocery stores.

Lisa Drayer said, "It might also be true that a poor diet could be linked to other risk factors for depression, such as social isolation, lack of support, lack of resources and access to healthcare and substance abuse. It might be hard to tease out if diet is the factor or simply a marker for other risk factors for depression."



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