Study Links Fast Food Consumption To Teen Depression

A 2018 BlueCross BlueShield report revealed that the prevalence of major depressive disorder has increased by 33% since 2013. The study also found that the rate of depression among teens is also rapidly rising. About 20% of the teens develop depression until they become adults. In fact, death by suicide is the third-leading cause for those in the age bracket of 15 to 24.

Depression is not mere sadness. Rather it is a mental disorder that interferes with the routine of the victim. It is characterized by the sufferer’s loss of interest in even his favorite hobbies and things. Unlike grief, clinical depression doesn’t last for just a day or two. In fact, it can be a part of one’s life for months and sometimes even years.

Unfortunately, of all the depressed teens only 30% are receiving treatment for the life-threatening ailment. There are several causes that contribute to teen depression. These range from excess social media use and sleep deprivation to trauma and gene tendency. Now a new study says that a poor diet that mainly comprises of fast food is also linked to depression.

What Does This Study Find?

Birmingham’s University of Alabama researchers say that a diet high in fast food and low in plant-based food contributes to depression. For the purpose of this study, the scientists involved analyzed urine samples of a team of middle schoolers. They found that they had high markers of sodium while low of potassium.

High sodium content indicated that the participants consumed highly processed food items. This means they had more frozen, fast, and junk foods. Low potassium in the diets of these middle schoolers hinted that they had less fruits, veggies, legumes, yogurt and even salmon in their diet.

Low levels of potassium are associated to poor mental health and lack of energy. Furthermore, researchers found that an increase in sodium levels and in potassium at baseline hinted at more signs of depression one and a half year later. This stood true even when factors such as blood pressure, age, weight, and gender were taken into account.

Limitations Of This Study

Previous studies have also shown that fast food and depression are associated. However, this study had some shortcomings. First of all, it was conducted on a small group of school kids. The total count of participants was just 84 of which 95% were African Americans from homes that earned low income. The study could also not find why sodium chipped in depression.

However, this study did use solid methods to come to conclusions. Urine samples were taken overnight. What’s more, the baseline and the end of study had a difference of one and a half years. Symptoms of depression were noted both at the start and the end of the study. Researchers carried out interviews to gauge depressive symptoms.

Key Takeaway

Depression is becoming increasing common among teens. A new report says that one reason behind this is their consumption of fast food. Keeping this in view, it is essential to eat healthy meals and a  diet with optimal amounts of sodium and potassium.