A daily diet that includes over 30 per cent ultra-processed food is associated with a significant risk of depression, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
The study states that ultra-processed foods are not limited to typical junk and fast foods. They also include mass-produced and highly refined products like diet soft drinks, some fruit juices and flavoured yoghurts, margarine, packet preparations of foods like scrambled egg and mashed potato and many ready-to-heat-and-eat dishes.
The new finding provides further evidence of the wide-ranging harms of diets loaded with cheap, well-marketed but often nutrient-poor convenience foods. The researchers from Deakin University and Cancer Council Victoria looked at associations between ultra-processed food consumption and depression in over 23,000 Australians from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. The study comprised people who were initially not taking any medication for depression and anxiety and were followed for over 15 years.
Even after accounting for factors like smoking and lower education, income and physical activity, which are linked to poor health outcomes, the findings show greater consumption of ultra-processed food is associated with a higher risk of depression. Lane said that while the study was not proof that ultra-processed food necessarily caused depression, it showed that eating more ultra-processed food was associated with an increased risk of depression.