Too much sugar may harm men’s mental health

a selection of donuts
High intake of sugary foods and drinks may harm men’s mental health, suggest researchers.
The downfalls of high sugar consumption are not limited to poor dental health and weight gain; a new study finds that eating too much sugar may also increase men’s long-term risk of mental health disorders.

Researchers found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar daily from sweetened foods and beverages were much more likely to develop anxiety, depression, and other common mental disorders after 5 years, compared with men with a lower daily sugar intake.

Lead study author Anika Knüppel, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that added sugar – that is, sugar that is added to foods and drinks during manufacturing or that we add ourselves – should make up no more than 10 percent of total daily calories for adults and children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, adults aged 20 and older consumed around 13 percent of their total daily calories from sugar between 2005 and 2010, with most added sugars coming from sugar-sweetened beverages, cakes and cookies, candy, and ice cream.

Consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of numerous health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay.

Previous studies have also indicated that there may be a link between high sugar intake and increased risk of depression, though Knüppel and team note that researchers have suggested that this association may be down to “reverse causation.”

“Reverse causation refers, in this context, to the possibility that a mood disorder may lead to higher sugar intake, so that the diet-mental health association is wholly or partly the result of poor mental health rather than of high sugar intake,” the authors explain.

For this latest research, the team set out to gain a better understanding of whether sugar consumption might influence the development of mental health disorders.


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