Sunday, April 08, 2012

Link between fast food, depression "confirmed"

Working class people eat more fast food and also have less rewarding lives so tend to get depressed

A new study supports past research tying fast food consumption to a greater risk of depression.

Published in the research journal Public Health Nutrition, the results indicate that frequent consumers of fast food are 51 percent more likely to develop depression than those who eat little or none of it. And "the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression," said Almudena S nchezVillegas of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, the study's lead author.
A new study supports past research showing that eating fast food is linked to a greater risk of depression. (Image c Joey)
The study included 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. They were assessed for an average of six months; during that time, 493 were diagnosed with depression or started to take antidepressants.

The research also found that participants who ate the most fast food and commercially baked goods were more likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits, which included eating less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. Smoking and working more than 45 hours per week were other prevalent characteristics.

The data was found to support research published last year in the journal PLoS One, which recorded 657 new cases of depression out of 12,059 people analyzed over more than six months. A 42 percent increase in depression risk associated with fast food was found.

"Although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled," S nchezVillegas proposed. He cited its effects for both mental and physical health, including its established tendency to promote obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Depression affects an estimated 121 million people worldwide. Previous studies suggest that certain nutrients may help prevent depression. These include group B vitamins, omega3 fatty acids and olive oil, as well as a healthy "Mediterranean"type diet more generally.


People just don't like supposedly "healthier" food

JUST one per cent of purchases are from McDonald's healthy range of foods.

The research, conducted by the Cancer Council, is the first to confirm that healthy options are rarely being purchased by eat-in diners.

"Australians are mainly purchasing unhealthy fast foods, despite healthier options being available in fast food stores," the authors said in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

The researchers compared purchases at 20 McDonald outlets over a two-week period.  There were 1449 meals purchases observed, but just one per cent was healthy.  No more than two healthy meals were observed in any store.  A total of 65 per cent were deemed unhealthy.

Nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin said it was not surprising that most people were not opting for the healthier choice.  "McDonald's is an indulgence food and the majority of people that go there are buying something because they see it as a treat," she said.

She said that it was positive that McDonald's offered healthier choices, but that it was not going to sway the majority of its customers to switch to salads.  "It is not the first point of choice when you are thinking of healthy food," she said.

A McDonald's spokesperson said it would not offer healthier options on its menu if they didn't sell.  "The introduction last year of a choice between salad or fries with extra value meals shows that there is a demand for choice," she said.

"Are salads as popular as fries?  "We don't claim that they are, but they are being chosen by our customers and we expect the number will grow."

Obesity Policy Coalition spokeswoman Jane Martin said fast food outlets like McDonald's would be better off making their high turnover products like burgers and fries healthier.

"There should be ways of making the mainstay of their business healthier because that is obviously what is being marketed heavily during shows like My Kitchen Rules and that's what people are buying," she said.

She said providing a healthy menu was getting rid of the protest vote in the group and meeting the company's corporate social responsibility policy.


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