We tend to eat a lot of sugar, although we know it is bad for our health. It makes us obese, gives us plenty of different conditions and essentially makes our lives shorter. However, a new study from UCL has just revealed yet another negative effect of high sugar diet. It turns out, men with high sugar intakes have an increased likelihood of common mental disorders.
You may think that causality is simply wrong. Maybe people with mental disorders simply consume more sugar? Well, no, scientists checked this possibility and it turned out to be not the case. Scientists analysed sugar intake habits of 5000 men and over 2000 women for a period of 22 years between 1983 and 2013. It was found that people with mental health conditions were not more likely to consume more sugar. On the other hand, people whose sugar intake was significantly higher than normal faced increased risk of developing a mental disorder. Causality in this situation is actually pretty straight forward.
But how much sugar you have to eat to face an increased risk of developing a mental disorder? After five years men, who consumed more than 67g, had a 23% increased risk of mental disorder, compared to those, who consumed less than 39.5 g. Just remember, that sugar is everywhere – in your bread, in your meat, in you drinks. Collecting those 67 grams is easier than you might imagine.
People often turn to sweets to cheer up, but that doesn’t work either. Men and women with certain mood disorders, who consumed a lot of sugar, had an increased chance of being depressed again after 5 years compared to those with lower intakes. Also, an interesting fact is that high sugar intake is much more dangerous for men for some unknown reason. While women still should watch sugar content in their diet, men face much greater risk of getting mental disease, associated with high levels of sugar in their diet.
Problem is that sweet foods do induce a form of happiness, but it doesn’t last long. It means that people have to turn back to sugar often to keep themselves going or they quickly become sad and find themselves lacking energy. Anika Knüppel, lead author of the study, said: “There is increasing evidence for the physical damage sugar has on our health. Our work suggests an additional mental health effect. This further supports the evidence for policy action such as the new sugar levy in the UK, but this is not addressed in many other European countries”.
Sugar tax is one option, but education is probably a better one. People don’t want to die early or get a mental disorder. Informing them about the dangers could actually do the trick.