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Nutrition Tip: Ultra-processed Foods + Depression

UPF(ultra-processed foods) are identified as energy-dense (high in calories), ready-to-eat items that include ultra processed grain foods, sweet snacks, ready-to-eat meals, fats and sauces, ultra processed dairy products, savory snacks, processed meats, beverages, and artificial sweeteners. 


The study included 31,712 females ages 42 - 62 years at baseline. The results of the study found participants with high UPF intake had a greater BMI, higher smoking rates, and increased prevalence of comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and were less likely to exercise regularly. In addition, they found that those in the highest category of UPF intake had an increased risk of depression. When the researchers broke down the components of UPF intake, they found that those who had higher intakes of artificially sweetened beverages and foods containing artificial sweeteners had the highest risk of depression. The limitations of the study can be reviewed by clicking the link below under sources.


In summary, these findings suggest that greater UPF intake, particularly articicial sweeteners and artificially sweetened beverages, is associated with an increased risk of depression in femails. If you are concerned with your mental health and risk of depression, you may want to think twice about drinking that "diet" soda or eating sugar-free yogurt that still tastes very sweet. These are products that contain artificial sweeteners.

Source: Samuthpongtorn C, Nguyen LH, Okereke OI, et al. Consumption of Ultraprocessed Food and Risk of Depression. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(9):e2334770.

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