The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
Adolescents who consume a greater amount of ultra-processed foods and drinks have more difficulties in terms of mental health, according to new research carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and the Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBGI), which analyzes the habits of five hundred Spanish adolescents aged between 13 and 18.
The study, which also involves the Faculty of Medicine and the Institut de Neurociències, both at the UAB, and the Barcelona Public Health Agency, analyzes the relationship between the intake of ultra-processed foods and psychosocial difficulties—such as low mood, feelings of anxiety, attentional problems—and other behavioral symptoms, taking into account the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables and the weekly physical activity of the participants, variables that have proven to have positive effects on mental health.
The research showed a direct association between high consumption of ultra-processed foods and beverages, emotional distress, and behavioral problems, with the association with low mood reported by adolescent participants being most significant.
“The association between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and mood and anxiety problems in adolescents is consistent with previous studies carried out on similar samples,” explains Pietro Tonini, ICTA-UAB researcher and first author of the study together with Marta Reales from IDIBGI, and adds that the results obtained indicate that the relationship between the consumption of these products and attentional and behavioral problems should be studied more in-depth.
The findings are published in the journal Nutrients.