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Western Diet Associated With Increased Depression in Teens

A recent study suggests that there may be a connection between consuming a Western diet rich in red meat, sugars, and fats and an increased risk of mental health problems in teens.


Participants in the study included approximately 1,600 who were originally surveyed at age 14. All of the students completed questionnaires about food and nutrient intake. That data was cross-referenced with a mental health questionnaire and clinical data on BMI and inflammation for approximately 1,000 of them when they were 17 years of age.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that diet and obesity were both linked to inflammation and mental health problems in teens. Conversely, a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains was associated with lower risk of depression as a result of lower BMI and inflammation.


The researchers also noted that following a Western diet — i.e. a diet high in red meat, refined foods, take away foods, and sweet foods — was associated with a higher risk of depression.


Researchers from the University of Tasmania conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 12, 2018, in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.


Previous research suggests that the healthiest diet is one that is rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while low on processed foods and sugars. If you’re trying to make a dietary change, try moving slowly. Change one unhealthy habit at a time for best results.

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