Got a sweet tooth? It could be putting you at a higher risk of developing a mental health disorder – if you’re a man, that is.
In a new study, University London College researchers found that men who often consume products high in added sugars are more likely than men with low sugar intake to develop conditions like anxiety and depression.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, examined 5,000 men and 2,000 women over the course of 22 years. The researchers found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar had a 23 percent higher chance of having poor mental health compared to men that consumed less than 39.5 grams.
While women who consumed a lot of sugar also had a higher chance of developing depression, the researchers couldn’t prove this was independent of other factors that could contribute to poor mental health in women.
“High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men," said lead author Anika Knüppel.
"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 study found no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women and it is unclear why. More research is needed to test the sugar-depression effect in large population samples.”
While the study isn’t the first to find a connection between sugary products and mental health problems, it is one of the first to show that people suffering from mental health problems don’t tend to consume more sugary products than the mentally healthy.
“Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term," said Knüppel. "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.”