A large study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that people who eat the most ultra-processed foods have a significantly higher risk of having depression compared to those who eat the least.
For their study, the research team looked at 15 years of data from more than 23,000 people in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, which focused on the effect of diet and lifestyle on chronic disease risk.
Having completed the analysis, the researchers found that those who consumed the highest amount of ultra-processed food were 23% more likely to show “elevated psychological distress,” a marker for depression, during the follow-up period.
Dr. Eamon Laird, a visiting research fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, who was not involved in the study, comments: “This is a very interesting study examining a very complicated issue. The authors found that in a cohort of mostly older adults (age [over] 50 years), higher consumption of ultra-processed food at baseline was associated with elevated psychological distress, as a marker for depression, at 15 years follow-up.”