Sugar… who doesn’t like a bit of the sweet stuff? Especially on a rainy Sunday afternoon, curled up under a blanket while watching a film… dipping into a bowl of M&Ms… or scooping spoonful’s of ice cream out of the tub.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t keep a firm grip on my sweet tooth, because once I allow it to get the better of me those occasional treats turn into regular must-haves…
And that’s one of the many problems with sugar: It’s highly addictive.
In fact, research has shown that sugar stimulates the brain in the same way as cocaine. Apart from that, this nutritionally bankrupt substance also increases the risk of developing metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, raised blood pressure and chronic inflammation…
Not the pick-me-up you expected
And now it seems there is one more thing you can add to the long list of health risks already attributed to consuming too much sugar: depression.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) looked at sugar intake and common mental health problems in 5,000 men and 2,000 women who were recruited for the Whitehall II study in the 1980s — one of the largest cohort studies in the UK.
The researchers initially investigated whether men might be eating more sugary foods because they were depressed, but found that was not the case. Instead, they found a significant link between consuming higher levels of sugar and common mental health disorders – mostly mild anxiety and depression – in men.
Men who consumed more than 67g (approximately 16.5 teaspoons) of sugar a day had a 23 per cent increased risk of suffering with mental health issues after five years, compared to those who consumed less than 39.5g (9 teaspoons) of sugar per day.
However, the researchers were unable to find a similar link between sugar consumption and mental health issues in women… and it is unclear why.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Anika Knüppel, said: “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.”
She added that evidence is mounting in support of the physical damage sugar can cause to our health and that this latest mental health risk only strengthens the case for tighter regulation on sugary foods and drinks.
While these findings are yet another reason for our government and policymakers to crackdown on unscrupulous food manufacturers that keep adding hidden sugars to our food, the researchers of this latest study concluded that more research is needed to test the sugar-depression effect in large population samples.
More research? Larger population samples?
There are plenty of studies showing the detrimental effects of sugar on your health… and this study consisted of 7,000 participants… how big must a population sample be in order for the results of a study to be taken serious?
I’ve heard of drugs that have been approved based on the results of much smaller studies!
Fortunately, one man stands strong by these results. Commenting on the findings Professor Eric Brunner from the UCL Institute and senior author of the study, said: “Our findings provide yet further evidence that sugary foods and drinks are best avoided. The new sugar tax on soft drinks, which will take effect in April 2018, is a step in the right direction. The physical and mental health of British people deserves some protection from the commercial forces which exploit the human ‘sweet tooth’.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
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Too much sugar could increase depression risk in men, study suggests, published online 27.07.17, theguardian.com