Study sees possible connection
French fries could increase risk of depression
4/25/2023, 5:48 p.m
French fries are unhealthy and bad for your figure, that’s a well-known fact. However, according to a new study, eating fried food can also be detrimental to the psyche. Deep fryer potato products seem to be of particular concern.
For many, they are a must at the outdoor pool and probably one of the most popular feel-good foods of all: French fries stand for fast-food culture and unabashed enjoyment like no other dish. It has long been known that they are not particularly healthy and make you fat. But eating fries can also have a negative impact on mental health, according to a new study.
A research team from Hangzhou, China found that regular consumption of fried foods is associated with a 12 percent higher risk of anxiety and a 7 percent higher risk of depression than people who do not eat fried foods. Potatoes from the fryer are particularly striking.
Deep-fried potatoes are of particular concern
In the study, 140,728 people were examined over a period of around eleven years. After excluding participants diagnosed with depression within the first two years, a total of 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 cases of depression were identified among those who consumed fried foods. The connection is strongest in young men, reports CNN with reference to the magazine PNAS published study.
Specifically, fried potato products were found to have a two percent higher risk of depression than fried white meat. The researchers suspect that acrylamide, a chemical produced when deep-frying potatoes, in particular, is responsible for the increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, told CNN: “Potatoes are of concern in terms of possible effects on mood because they can cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels and hormonal responses to those spikes .” However, these spikes would be partially mitigated by cooking in hot frying fat. Willett also points out that acrylamide isn’t just a product of frying. It’s also in coffee, because the beans are roasted, and in toast because “heating carbohydrates along with protein can do this.”
Experts doubt the meaningfulness of the study
Nutrition experts point out that the results of the study are preliminary. It cannot yet be said with certainty whether fried foods are the cause of mental health problems, or whether people with symptoms of depression or anxiety are more likely to eat fries and other fast foods.
Although unhealthy food and poor nutrition can affect mood and promote mental illness, “the causal course could just as well go in the other direction,” says medical expert David Katz in an interview with the US broadcaster. “People with anxiety or depression are more likely to use comfort food to get some relief,” says Katz.
“No reason to panic”
Zhejiang University’s Yu Zhang, one of the authors of the study, said in an email to CNN that for the time being there was “no reason to panic about the negative effects of fried foods.” Nevertheless, with a view to physical and mental health, one should reduce the consumption of fried foods and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
dr David Katz adds in the US report that a lack of variety in the diet can also have a significant impact on well-being. If there’s anything to take away from this study, Katz says, “it’s that overall diet quality and healthy food choices are important to every aspect of health.”