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Another Reason to Avoid Junk Foods

Beyond the old adage that you are what you eat


lempert

It goes well beyond obesity and physical illness. A new study from Loma Linda University, published Feb. 16 in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, revealed that California adults who consumed more unhealthy food were also more likely to report symptoms of either moderate or severe psychological distress than their peers who consume a healthier diet.

Jim E. Banta, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said the results are similar to previous studies conducted in other countries that have found a link between mental illness and unhealthy diet choices. 

Increased sugar consumption has been found to be associated with bipolar disorder, for example, and consumption of foods that have been fried or contain high amounts of sugar and processed grains have been linked with depression.

In their study, Banta and his team reviewed data from more than 240,000 phone surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015 as part of the multiyear California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The CHIS data set includes extensive information about socio-demographics, health status and health behaviors and was designed to provide statewide approximations for regions within California and for various ethnic groups.

The study found that nearly 17% of California adults are likely to suffer from mental illness: 13.2% with moderate psychological distress and 3.7% with severe psychological distress.

The study stated that the team's findings provide "additional evidence that public policy and clinical practice should more explicitly aim to improve diet quality among those struggling with mental health."  

Food as medicine is more important than ever.

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