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Press releases

27 July 2017

British Dietetic Association dismisses claims that sugar consumption is linked to depression

A recent study by University College London (UCL) has claimed that British men could be making themselves anxious and depressed by consuming too much sugar.

The research found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar per day increased their risk of mood disorders by more than a fifth compared with those with an intake of less than 39.5g.

Catherine Collins, from the British Dietetic Association, urged caution when looking at the research. She said:

"Whilst the findings as reported are interesting, the dietary analysis makes it impossible to justify the bold claims made by the researchers about sugar and depression in men. More surprising is the lack of reported effect in women, who have a far more emotional relationship with food.

"Reducing intake of free sugars is good for your teeth, and may be good for your weight, too. But as protection against depression, it is not proven."

Professor Tom Sanders, a nutrition expert at King's College London, added:

"This is an observational study not a clinical trial and its interpretation needs to be treated with caution. While the authors have tried to adjust for the effects of social factors there still is a risk of residual confounding. There is also a major problem in that sugar intake is under-reported in the overweight and obese, which the authors acknowledge."

Rob Howard, professor of old-age psychiatry at UCL, commented:

"More work is needed before depression and anxiety could be added to the list of health problems known to be linked to excess sugar consumption.”