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Western Diet Increases Depression In Teenagers and Fails Them

Teenagers Depression Diet Obesity Inflammation

Today more than ever parents want the answer to what's causing increased depression in American teens. Turns out the answer is most obvious, but the least believed. The role of nutrition in mental health has never been more prevalent.


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Role of Nutrition In Mental Health

An observational study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity suggests that dietary patterns may impact mental health. Researchers aimed to explain the relationship between dietary patterns, obesity, inflammation and mental health, including depressive symptoms in adolescents.

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Is Obesity Linked To Inflammation and Depression

Data from 843 adolescents participating in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study at 14 and 17 years years of age were collected. Structural equation modeling was applied to test hypothesized models relating dietary patterns, energy intake and obesity (body mass index) at 14 years to obesity and inflammation at 17 years old, and these inflammatory markers to depressive symptoms and internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems at 17 years.

Researchers further tested a reverse hypothesis model, with depression at 14 years old as a predictor of dietary patterns at the same time-point.

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High BMI Associated With Depression In Teens

The role of nutrition in mental health couldn't be greater. The tested models linked strongly to the data. A 'Western' dietary pattern (high intake of red meat, fast foods, refined foods, and processed or confectionary foods at 14 years was associated with higher energy intake and BMI at 14 years, and with BMI and biomarkers of inflammation at 17 years.

A 'healthy' dietary pattern (high in fruit, vegetables, fish, whole-grains) was inversely associated with BMI and inflammation at 17 years. Higher BMI at 14 years was associated with higher BMI, depressive symptoms, and mental health problems, all at 17 years.

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Western Diet Failing Teenagers

Researchers concluded that that 'Western' diet associates with an increased risk of mental health problems including depressive symptoms in adolescents, through biologically plausible pathways of obesity and inflammation, whereas a 'Healthy' dietary pattern appears protective in these pathways. Longitudinal modeling into adulthood is indicated to confirm the complex associations of dietary patterns, obesity, inflammation and mental health problems, including depressive symptoms.