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New dangers found in sugar and fast food

Monday - 4/2/2012, 9:42am  ET

WASHINGTON - New information suggests that sugar and junk food can cause more damage, both mentally and physically, than previously considered.

With obesity continually on the rise, it's not news that cutting fast food and fatty-snacks is good for the waistline and cholesterol, but a new study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition suggests a link between commercial baked goods and depression, the Huffington Post reports.

Lead author of the study, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, says that while more research is needed, "the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being."

Foods such as doughnuts, hamburgers, pizza and hot dogs are some of the foods linked to increased risk of depression. The study also finds these individuals were more likely to smoke, not exercise and work more than 45 hours a week.

The bad news for tasty foods doesn't stop there.

On April 1, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a piece on sugar -- and experts say the sweetener is toxic.

The average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year and the health threat may be more damaging than previously thought.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco says he believes sugar is toxic. He admits that the label sounds over the top -- but it's true. Sugar, more than any other substance, he says, is to blame for obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. And it's not an issue of high fructose corn syrup versus table sugar either.

"They are basically equivalent. The problem is they're both bad. They're both equally toxic," Dr. Lustig says.

While sugar consumption has gone down nearly 40 percent since the 1970s, high fructose corn syrup has more than made up the difference. The fructose in both is what makes them irresistible.

Watch the full 60 Minutes special at cbsnews.com.

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