Blog: Dean BestProcessed food sours the mood

Dean Best | 2 November 2009

We all know that junk food is bad for you. But probably only a few of us realise the affect that scoffing that burger, biscuit or fatty fry-up has could stretch well beyond our waistlines.

According to new research published today (2 November) in the British Journal of Psychiatry, people who have a poor diet that is high in fatty processed foods are “significantly” more likely to suffer from future depression.

Researchers from University College London, who compiled data on 3,500 middle-aged civil servants, found people whose diet is high in processed foods have a 58% greater risk of depression than those who opt for the carrot over the cake. Meanwhile, people who eat the most whole foods are 26% less likely to suffer from depression.

Responding to the report, Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, observed: “The UK population is consuming less nutritious, fresh produce and more saturated fats and sugars. Significant changes in the way food is produced and manufactured have reduced the amounts of essential fats, vitamins and minerals we consume. New substances, such as pesticides, additives and trans-fats have also been introduced to the diet. This imbalance combined with a lack of vitamins and minerals is associated with depression as well as concentration and memory problems.”

And, with mental health campaigners joining the ranks pressuring food manufacturers to improve the health profile of their products, this latest piece of research certainly gives the sector some more food for thought.


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