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Study: French Fries May Be Linked to Depression

Study: French Fries May Be Linked to Depression

French fries are a go-to comfort food for many, but before you order that next side of fries you might want to check in on your mental health.

According to a new study out of Hangzhou, China, frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried potatoes, is linked with a 12 percent higher risk of anxiety and 7 percent higher risk of depression than in people who abstain from fried foods altogether. The study evaluated 140,728 people over 11 years and found that the link is stronger among young men and younger consumers.

In addition to causing depression and anxiety, fried foods are also known risk factors for obesity, high blood pressure and other health issues. However, one expert explained that further study needs to be completed on the connection between mental health and nutrition.

“The human component of this study may indicate just what it purports: that higher intake of fried food increases the risk of anxiety/depression,” Dr. David Katz told CNN. “However, the causal pathway could just as readily go the other way: people with anxiety/depression turn to ‘comfort food’ with increasing frequency for some semblance of relief.”

The study pointed to a recent rise in depression and anxiety in adults worldwide, with 2020 seeing an increase of 27.6% and 25.6%, respectively. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that during this same time period, fast food restaurants, which often serve a variety of fried food options, saw an increase in customers.

While nutrition experts say the results are preliminary and it’s not clear whether the fried foods are causing the mental health issues or vice versa, it’s clear that unhealthy food and poor nutrition can lower one’s mood and progress a mental health condition. So, while there’s no need to panic about the adverse effects of fried food (according to one of the study’s authors), it may be wise to cut back on those fries and opt for more wholesome foods instead.

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