Good news for women: While added sugar is arguably unhealthy for everyone, and puts your physical health at risk, it turns out women can at least consume it without getting depressed. Tiny victories! But unfortunately for men, that’s not the case; a new study found that ingesting high quantities of added sugar makes men more likely to become depressed.
As the Guardian reports, researchers from University College London evaluated the diet and mental health of 5,000 men and 2,000 women recruited for the Whitehall II study in the 1980s. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study found no association between sugar intake and mood disorders in women — but researchers did find a strong link between high levels of sugar and depression in men.
In the study, men with the highest intake of sugar — over 67 grams per day — were found to have a 23 percent higher risk of common mood disorders after five years than those who consumed less than 39.65 grams of sugar each day. Researchers also looked into the possibility that men simply consume more sugar when they’re feeling depressed, and found that wasn’t the case. The Guardian points out that women were underrepresented in the study, which could have affected the results, but in general, national dietary surveys suggest that men tend to consume more sugar than women.
“High-sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men,” lead study author Anika Knüppel told the Guardian. “There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The study wasn’t the first to find a link between depression and sugar in men, but it does add more evidence to support the association, the Guardian notes. The researchers said further studies are needed to understand the impact sugar has on physical and mental health, but noted that it provides further proof that even if sugar doesn’t make women feel depressed, it’s still best to avoid sugary drinks and food as often as possible.