(Online) – The downfalls of high sugar consumption are not limited to poor dental health and weight gain; a new study finds that eating too much sugar may also increase men’s long-term risk of mental health disorders.
Consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of numerous health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay.
Previous studies have also indicated that there may be a link between high sugar intake and increased risk of depression, though Knuppel and team note that researchers have suggested that this association may be down to “reverse causation.”
“Reverse causation refers, in this context, to the possibility that a mood disorder may lead to higher sugar intake, so that the diet-mental health association is wholly or partly the result of poor mental health rather than of high sugar intake,” the authors explain.
For this latest research, the team set out to gain a better understanding of whether sugar consumption might influence the development of mental health disorders.
Knuppel and colleagues analyzed data from the Whitehall Study II, including 10,308 participants (66.9 percent of whom were men) who were aged between 35 and 55 years during the first phase of the study.
However, this association diminished once sociodemographic and other dietary and health factors were considered.
Interestingly, the team also found that sugar intake among men and women with mental health disorders was no higher than that of men and women without mental health disorders. This thwarts the theory that the link between high sugar intake and greater risk of mental health disorders is down to reverse causation.
Based on their findings, Knuppel and team believe that we should move away from eating sugary foods as a means to boost mood, as it may do more harm than good.
“Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. 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.”