[back] Junk food conspiracy

 Junk food 'makes teens depressed'

Mail 7/3/2007
THOUSANDS of British teenagers could be suffering from depression because of a poor diet, a leading scientist warned yesterday.

Research had linked depression in young people to a low intake of vitamins, miner­als, and other essential nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, said Cambridge University scientist Diane Bamber.

Around three per cent of adolescents suffer severe depressive symptoms lasting a year or more, and the condition often goes hand in hand with eating disorders, drug abuse and self harm, she added.

But many thousands more are thought to be less seriously affected with common effects including mood swings, irritability and changing sleep patterns. School work and social development are often badly affected, Dr Bamber said.

She told a British Nutrition Foundation Conference in London that several trials had successfully used supplements of Omega 3, which is found in oily fish, to relieve the symptoms of depressed patients.

Levels of folic acid, selenium, zinc and thiamine were also found to be linked to depres­sion and supplements had benefited patients.

In one study more than 200 young offend­ers were given muiti-vitamin pills and fish oil supplements, which brought a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour.

Dr Bamber said: 'It would appear that a diet rich in these nutrients may help prevent teenagers getting depression or at least help to moderate it.'

Children from a poorer background might be more at risk because they could be less likely to get a well balanced diet, she added.