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Eating junk food triggers depression, study claims

A study led by the University of Glasgow revealed links between the consumption of foods high in saturated fats that lead to obesity and the development of depression phenotypes (stock photo)
A study led by the University of Glasgow revealed links between the consumption of foods high in saturated fats that lead to obesity and the development of depression phenotypes (stock photo)

By Lucinda Cameron

Fats entering the brain through the bloodstream may explain the link between obesity and depression, research suggests.

A study led by the University of Glasgow revealed links between the consumption of foods high in saturated fats that lead to obesity and the development of depression phenotypes.

Scientists also found that by decreasing the release of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase, symptoms of obesity-linked depression can be reduced.

Mice fed a fat-dense diet were shown to have an influx of fatty acids in the hypothalamus region of the brain, an area related to the metabolic system and known to be linked with depression.

These fatty acids directly affected the key signalling pathways responsible for the development of depression.

Professor George Baillie, lead author of the study at the University of Glasgow, said: "This is the first time anyone has observed the effects a high-fat diet can have on signalling areas of the brain related to depression.

"This research may begin to explain how and why obesity is linked with depression and how we can potentially better treat patients with these conditions.

"We often use fatty food to comfort ourselves as it tastes really good. However, in the long term, this is likely to affect one's mood in a negative way.

"We all know that a reduction in fatty food intake can lead to many health benefits, but our research suggests that it also promotes a happier disposition."

The study was published in the Translational Psychiatry journal.

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