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New Study: Fast Food Makes You Sad

People who routinely eat fast food are 51 percent more likely to suffer from depression , compared to those who limit their intake of Big Macs, fries and the like or who don’t eat any of that stuff all. 8,964 people who had never been diagnosed with depression or who had never taken antidepressants were assessed for an average of six months by researchers the from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada. 493 were diagnosed with depression or had started to take antidepressants.

A regular diet of pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs was not the only culprit. The researchers also found that consumption of commercial baked goods such as croissants and doughnuts also led to people being more likely to suffer from depression. In addition, they noted what Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, an author of the study, says in Science Daily is a “dose-response relationship,” that “the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression.”

The researchers have published their findings in Public Health Nutrition .

It seems no surprise that eating too many fries and Munchkins and drinking Coolattas and soda instead of plain old water would make you feel bad. Such meals (if you can call them that) provide instant pleasure (thanks to plenty of sugar, salt and fat) but provide little nutrition and can even lead to you still feeling hungry, despite having consumed a significant amount of calories.

Even more, with the evidence for why fast food is bad for you piling up, how can we get people not to eat it and to eat more healthfully? Fast food is certainly popular among teenagers and, as many parents (myself included) of teenagers know, one of the best ways to get a child to eat something you don’t want them to (a Big Mac, for instance) is to say “that is so unhealthy and you will feel worse afterwards.”

Happy Meals should really be called Unhappy Meals: Yes, fast food is bad for us. How can we use the findings of the Public Health Nutrition study to wean kids (and others) from fast food and not only eat more healthfully, but just feel better?