The Maintenance Library - Article: Is Your Junk Food Habit Making You Depressed?

01-15-2010, 02:29 PM
Here's an article about a study with fascinating results: Is Your Junk Food Habit Making You Depressed? (

The study found that:

After adjusting for variables such as age and sex, the scientists found that high consumption of processed food was associated with increased likelihood of depression, whereas those who had the highest consumption of whole foods were least likely to be depressed, and even less likely than those in the whole food pattern who ate fewer whole foods.


"Our finding shows a strong association between diet and depressive symptoms after controlling for a large range of socio-demographic factors, and for health behaviors such as smoking, physical activity, and health status," notes lead study author Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, an epidemiologist with the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Montpellier, France. While it's possible that a healthy diet is a marker of some other factor that protects against depression, "the effect of diet on depressive symptoms didn't go down after we adjusted for other indicators of a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking, physical activity, and body mass, Akbaraly says. "What we found isn't a spurious association."

The article doesn't go into the "why" of the association of junk food with depression and whether it's a physical or psychological response, or perhaps both. If I can find the original study, maybe it will be clearer.

Regardless, I personally can believe that depression might be a physical reaction to junk food. Those of us who have switched to a whole foods diet can all attest to what happens when we eat off-plan! Sugar and junky food makes me lethargic and unhappy, where I feel like a slug instead of brimming with energy.

I'm curious what everyone else thinks!

01-15-2010, 02:59 PM
Is your junk food habit making you depressed or is your depression leading you to eat junk food or is it a downward spiral where each contributes to the other? Regardless, another good reason to try to eat more whole foods.

01-17-2010, 03:15 PM
I think for me there is a bit of both involved. A leads to B. B leads to A. Sometimes the trigger is an emotional event that leads to eating. Sometimes the trigger is food that leads to emotion.

01-17-2010, 09:22 PM
I think it's chicken and egg thing. I've no doubt junk food can make depression worse (vicious cycle), but mainly I start eating junk when I'm depressed, which is effect instead of cause. Prolly also different for all of us.

01-22-2010, 05:05 PM
Since I cut processed foods from my diet, I feel AMAZING! I don't have the sugar cycle, my energy is more even, I am happier too. I have also lost weight and feel more in control over my weight and my life. Is that due to the food? Maybe. I would have to think that anyone going from a processed food diet (diet meaning eating pattern) to a whole foods diet would lose weight. So maybe it should measured after one is in maintenance or "used to" weight loss? It's interesting that I am WAY more positive than the last time I was at this weight (on the way up rather than the way down). But again, there are just so many factors, it's hard to tell.

The chemicals that are in processed foods do all kinds of horrible things to us. I would not doubt that there is a chemical connection between those foods and depression. I am not a chemical psychologist, so I don't know for sure, but it seems like it certainly couldn't hurt!

I can say that since a whole foods diet would cause most people to lose weight and have better health, two things that can improve mood, the end result of it could be to provide downward pressure on the tendency to be depressed.

Even if I never lost another pound, I wouldn't give up my whole foods way of life.