While you may think of eating burger and fries as a treat, research has found a link between eating junk food and psychological distress.

Sadly, attempting to lift your mood and treat yourself with your favourite junk food could have the opposite effect.

A new study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that adults who ate more unhealthy food were also more likely to report symptoms of either moderate or severe psychological distress than their peers who consume a healthier diet.

Researchers found that this link between poor mental health and junk food existed regardless of personal characteristics such as gender age, education, age, marital status and income level.

Eating junk food increases the risk of developing cancer

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Sugar linked to bipolar disorder

These results are similar to previous studies that have found a link between mental illness and unhealthy diet choices.

For example, previous research found that increased sugar consumption to be associated with bipolar disorder and eating fried foods or foods that contain high amounts of sugar and processed grains has been linked with depression.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavioural medicine,” says Jim E. Banta, PhD, MPH, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.”

An unusual way to fight junk food cravings

Study based 10-year follow up survey of over 240 000 people

In their study, Banta and his team reviewed data from more than 240 000 telephone surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015 as part of the multi-year California Health Interview Survey (CHIS).

Source: Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Centre via www.sciencedaily.com