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New study suggests that sugar may impact both our mental and physical health

Research is now uncovering more information about just how consuming excess sugar impacts our overall health-not just our physical health but also our mental health.  In a study that just became available online (July 2017) titled “Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study” by Anika Knuppel, Shipley, Llewellyn and Brunner (21 November 2016) is the first of its kind to indicate that high intakes of sugar contributes to depression in men.

This was a long-term study that tracked the diets and medical conditions of 8,000 people over 22 years–using surveys about doctors’ visits and diet data collected every few years. The researchers then crunched all of this data so that they could analyze the correlations between health and diet outcomes. The most telling of the correlations was that that men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression in a five-year period than men who ate 40 grams or less. Now keep in mind, that the new guidelines recommend that men should consume a max of 38 grams daily and women 25 grams daily. This data is telling as it reveals that consuming excess sugar can have an effect on mood states.

During the study none of the participants were being treated for depression or any other mental disorders at the beginning of the study. The sugar and depression correlation surfaced during the first five-year survey (early on in the study) and continued as a significant correlation throughout the life of the study. An interesting tidbit is that the researchers found that this correlation was only present with the male population in the study and that the correlation between sugar intake and depression was independent of their socioeconomic status, physical activity, physical health or eating/life habits like drinking, smoking or weight. So what about the women? Well, more research needs to be conducted to determine why this was not the case for women as the results were unclear as to why…

This study suggests that excess sugar is at least a contributing factor to depression in a percentage of the population-men specifically. Also it is important to note that this body of research is in its early stages and that lots more research needs to be done. So stay tuned…

SugarScience is the authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health.

Mary C. Wiley, PsyD

Mary C. Wiley, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the Bay Area for nearly 20 years. She works primarily with addiction and mood disorders utilizing evidence-based approaches (cognitive -behavioral approach and mindfulness) therapies.

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