Fast Food May Cause Teen Depression
Depression has become much more common among teens and even preteens. But why?
A recent study published in the journal Physiological Reports suggests that consumption of fast food by preteens and teenagers may be contributing to the increased rate of depression seen amongst this cohort in the past decade.
The study did not directly focus on fast food, rather researchers at the University of Alabama examined the role of two dietary factors in depressive symptoms in adolescents; levels of sodium and potassium in the urine. High and frequent consumption of fast food raises urinary sodium levels while reducing that of potassium. This study eliminates weaknesses inherent in food frequency questionnaires and other self-reporting tools used in previous studies.
Other sources of high sodium foods include highly processed foods such as frozen meals and unhealthy snacks. Low potassium indicates a diet missing fruits and vegetables that ordinarily supply this mineral.
The researchers concluded that higher urine levels of sodium and lower levels of potassium predicted more signs of depression, even a year and a half after the study concluded.
This study is very important given that the prevalence of depression has increased an incredible 30% over the last decade (and the smartphone cannot be solely to blame!). The more we understand what is contributing to this trend, the better we can address the underlying issues.
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Reference: Sodium and potassium excretion predict increased depression in urban adolescents, Sylvie Mrug, Catheryn Orihuela, Michal Mrug, Paul W. Sanders, https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14213