American teenagers who eat a lot of fast food may be more at risk of depression, a small study suggests

American teenagers who eat a lot of fast food may be more at risk of depression, a small study suggests

  • Researchers asked teenagers about their depression and analyzed their urine for sodium and potassium levels
  • Teenagers with a high sodium content and a low potassium content were much more likely to be depressed last year
  • Sodium probably indicated a high-fat diet, while low potassium probably meant a lack of fruit and vegetables
  • Depression among American teenagers has risen from 8% in 2007 to 13% in 2017
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A diet rich in fast food and unhealthy snacks can increase the risk of teenage depression, a new small study suggests.

High and high school students were much more likely to be depressed if they had urine with a high sodium content – which indicates a diet with many processed foods – and low potassium levels – meaning an absence of products and whole grains.

The level of both depression and obesity has risen enormously over the past decade among American teenagers.

The team, from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), says the findings indicate that feeding a better diet can be used to supplement traditional treatments to treat depressive symptoms.

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A new study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham found that a teenager with high sodium levels and low potassium levels in their urine was more likely to report symptoms of depression (file image)

A new study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham found that a teenager with high sodium levels and low potassium levels in their urine was more likely to report symptoms of depression (file image)

The prevalence of depression among American teenagers has slowly risen in the last 10 years.

A Pew Research Center poll that in 2017, 13 percent of American teenagers between 12 and 17 years old said they did had experienced at least one depressive episode in the past year, compared to eight percent in 2007.

& # 39; (This underlines) the importance of identifying contributing factors and developing new prevention strategies, & # 39; wrote the authors.

For the study, published in the journal Physiological Reports, the team had 84 teenagers, most of whom were African Americans.

The participants themselves reported their depressive symptoms at the start of the study and a year and a half later.

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Questions were asked from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale.

Teenagers were asked to judge statements like & # 39; I struggled to keep my thoughts on what I was doing & # 39; or & # 39; I felt anxious & # 39; on a scale of & # 39; seldom or none of the time & # 39; until & # 39; all the time & # 39 ;.

They also gave urine samples so that the team could analyze sodium and potassium levels.

Researchers found that a combination of high sodium and low potassium levels were the best predictor of more frequent depressive symptoms reported one and a half years later.

Teenagers who indicated to be depressed probably ate a lot of fast food and snacks and not a lot of fruit and vegetables.

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& # 39; Interventions are needed to ensure that adolescents receive the right nutrition to reduce their risk of depression & # 39 ;, said co-author Dr. Sylbie Mrug, president of the psychology department at UAB.

& # 39; Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and yogurt are low in sodium and high in potassium and should be encouraged as part of a teen's daily diet. & # 39;

The team added that a bad diet may not be the cause of depression, but it may indicate the presence of other contributing factors.

Poor diets are often consumed by low-income families struggling with a lack of access to health care or resources.

This is not the first time that research has linked an unhealthy diet to symptoms of depression.

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A 2018 rating Several studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in England showed that a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fats – which cause inflammation – increased the risk of developing depression.

And a study Earlier this year at Loma Linda University in California, it was discovered that adults who ate an unhealthy diet were more likely to report symptoms of moderate or severe psychological stress than those who followed a healthy diet.

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