Are you feeling anxious or blue? Ultra-processed foods may be to blame

Summary: Eating large amounts of highly processed foods can impact mental health, increasing the risk of anxiety and depression.

Source: FAU

Do you like those sugary drinks, reconstituted meat products and packaged snacks? You might want to reconsider your decision based on a new study that explored whether people who eat higher amounts of ultra-processed foods have worse mental health symptoms.

Although ultra-processed foods are convenient, inexpensive, quick to prepare or ready to eat, these industrial formulations of processed food substances (oils, fats, sugars, starch, protein isolates) contain little or no whole foods.

They result from extensive “physical, biological and chemical processes” that create food products deficient in original and natural foods. Ultra-processed foods typically include flavors, colors, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives.

While there is some evidence regarding ultra-processed food consumption and depression, data is sparse regarding other negative mental health symptoms, including anxiety and poor mental health days.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and collaborators explored a nationally representative sample of the United States population to determine whether people who eat large amounts of ultra-processed foods report significantly more symptoms of adverse mental health, including depression, anxiety, and poor mental health days.

They measured mild depression, days of poor mental health and days of anxiety in 10,359 adults aged 18 and older from the US Health and Nutrition Survey.

The results of the study, published in the journal Public health Nutritionshowed that people who ate the most ultra-processed foods compared to those who ate the least had statistically significant increases in adverse mental health symptoms of mild depression, “bad mental health days” and “anxiety days”.

They also had significantly lower rates of reporting zero “poor mental health days” and zero “anxiety days.”

The results of this study are generalizable to the entire United States as well as other Western countries with similar ultra-processed food intakes.

“Ultra-processing foods depletes their nutritional value and also increases the calorie count, as ultra-processed foods tend to be high in added sugar, saturated fat and salt, while being low in protein, fiber , vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals,” said Eric Hecht, MD, Ph.D., corresponding author and affiliated associate professor at FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

More than 70% of packaged foods in the United States are classified as ultra-processed foods and account for approximately 60% of all calories consumed by Americans. Credit: Florida Atlantic University

“Over 70% of packaged foods in the United States are classified as ultra-processed foods and account for approximately 60% of all calories consumed by Americans. Given the magnitude of exposure and effects of consuming ultra-processed foods, our study has important clinical and public health implications.

The researchers used the NOVA food classification for the study, which is a widely used system recently adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. NOVA considers the nature, extent, and purpose of food processing to classify foods and beverages into four groups: unprocessed or minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods. .

“The data from this study adds important and relevant information to a growing body of evidence regarding the adverse effects of ultra-processed drinking on mental health symptoms,” said Charles H. Hennekens, MD, Dr.PH, co -author, the first Sir Richard Doll Professor of Medicine and Senior Academic Advisor, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine.

“Analytical epidemiological research is needed to test the many hypotheses made from these descriptive data.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults lives with a mental illness. Mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, are leading causes of morbidity, disability and mortality.

About this diet and psychology research news

Author: Press office
Source: FAU
Contact: Press office – FAU
Image: Image is credited to FAU

Original research: Access closed.
Cross-sectional review of ultra-processed food consumption and adverse mental health symptoms” by Eric M Hecht et al. Public health Nutrition


Summary

Cross-sectional review of ultra-processed food consumption and adverse mental health symptoms

Objective:

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Exploring whether people who consume higher amounts of ultra-processed foods (UPF) experience more adverse mental health symptoms.

Design:

Using a cross-sectional design, we measured UPF intake as a percentage of total energy intake in kilo-calories using the NOVA food classification system. We explored whether people who consume higher amounts of UPF were more likely to report mild depression, more days of poor mental health, and more days of anxiety per month using multivariate analyzes by adjusting variables from potential confusion.

Setting:

Representative sample from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2012.

Speakers:

10,359 adults aged 18 and over with no history of cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin use.

Results:

After adjusting for covariates, people with the highest level of UPF use were significantly more likely to report at least mild depression (OR: 1 81; 95% CI 1 09, 3 02), more poor mental health (hazard ratio (RR): 1 22; 95% CI 1 18, 1 25) and more anxious days per month (RR: 1 19; 95% CI 1 16, 1 ) 23). They were also significantly less likely to report no days of poor mental health (OR: 0 60; 95% CI 0 41, 0 88) or anxiety (OR: 0 65; 95% CI 0 47, 0 90) .

Conclusion :

People reporting higher UPF intakes were significantly more likely to report mild depression, more mentally unhealthy and more anxious days, and less likely to report zero mentally unhealthy or anxious days. These data add important information to a growing body of evidence regarding the potential adverse effects of FPU consumption on mental health.

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