by Graham Pierrepoint
Sugar, off all the ingredients in our daily diets, gets a bad rap, and rightly so. While natural sugars such as those occurring in fruit pose less of a problem, artificial sugars and additives have long been blamed for a number of dietary downfalls. It’s proven to be highly addictive, is a major contributor in weight gain and is, of course, the number one enemy of healthy teeth and gums the world over. And yet, it still remains – though the world is largely waking up to just how much damage sugar is doing to our diets, with more restrictions being brought in regarding children’s cereals and advertising during family programming blocks.
However, it’s not just our figures and our teeth that can feel the negative effects of sugar – as University College London has recently studied correlations between sugar intake and mental health issues in a survey of people dating back 30 years. It seems that, when taking into account the two factors of high sugar intake and the appearance of depression – in men in particular – there is surprising correlation. While you may think that the results show that depressed males simply eat more sugar to fight back negative feelings, think again – as the study’s results suggest otherwise.
UCL’s study, according to The Guardian, seems to suggest that men eating the highest amount of sugar among all of the participants had a significantly raised chance of succumbing to mental illness in the long-term as opposed to those eating the least. Men eating over 67g of sugar per day saw their chances of becoming depressed skyrocket by 23% - a curious spike which seems to encourage a link between dietary problems and mental health. Even more curious, it seems, is that women were not affected at all in this way – perhaps opening up a whole new avenue for research in future.
It’s clear that there has always been a link between physical health, diet and our mental health – this much is true – but UCL’s study seems to suggest that there could be more at stake when it comes to sugar that we simply haven’t comprehended yet. Therefore, the paper will likely encourage future research on wider samples of people, and could well open up an even further debate on sugar’s true place in our diets. Some people have been able to ward off unnecessary sugars for good – but can the wider populace?