Millions of men could be making themselves anxious and depressed by eating too much sugar, research suggests. Males who eat more than 67 grams a day have a 23% increased risk of developing the blues after five years, reported Daily Mail.
The findings are concerning given the average man in the UK consumes an average 68.4 grams per day – more than double of what is recommended. Intriguingly, the researchers did not find the same association with women. Most people consume such high amounts of sugar largely due to it being added to processed foods, experts warn.
Lead author Dr Anika Knuppel from University College London said, “There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The researchers analysed data on the sugar intake and mental health of more than 5,000 men and 2,000 women between 1983 and 2013. Men who consumed a high sugary diet – more than 67grams a day – had a 23% increased chance of developing mental disorders after five years.
This was compared to those who had a low-sugar diet, who eat less than 39.5grams a day. Men in the UK consume an average 68.4grams of added sugar per day, according to the National Diet and Nutrition survey – above the amount linked to mental problems in the study.
The study found no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women and researchers say it is unclear why. It was found that both men and women with existing mood disorders and high sugar consumption had an increased chance of being depressed again after five years compared to those with lower intakes. And for the first time, it was found that having a mood disorder did not make people more inclined to eat foods with a high-sugar content.
Dr Knuppel added, “Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term.
‘People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings.
‘Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term.” The report was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
However, spokesperson and registered dietitian Catherine Collins argued, “Whilst the findings as reported are interesting, analysis makes it impossible to justify the bold claims made by the researchers about sugar and depression in men. More surprising is the lack of reported effect in women, who have a far more emotional relationship with food.”
She added, “Reducing intake of free sugars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as protection against depression? It’s not proven.”
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