Loading up on Sugary Foods and Drinks May Mess With Your Mind

Assortment of candy and gummies
 Bruno Raffa / EyeEm / Getty Images

With all the studies coming out these days suggesting that consuming too much sugar can lead to all sorts of unhealthy outcomes—namely an increased risk of obesity, cancer, and early death—we hope you’ve cut way back on your Pixy Stix consumption.

Well, gents, here’s another study showing how sugar can harm you—and this one suggests that the sweet stuff can increase your risk of developing a mental disorder.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 7,000 men and women from a 22-year survey of British civil servants for the study, which appeared in the journal Scientific Reports. They found that men who consumed a lot of sugar—more than 67g daily—were 23% more likely to develop a mental disorder after five years compared to those who consumed less than 39.5g a day. And that’s after the researchers filtered out results linked to other health factors, like behavior, demographics, diet, obesity, and disease.

Americans currently down an average of 84g of sugar a day, much higher than the levels in the study—yet another clear sign that you should cut back if you haven’t already. “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,” said lead author Anika Knüppel, a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. “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.”

But don’t just wait for policy. You can easily cut back on sugar by avoiding processed foods, switching out fruit juice for whole fruit, steering clear of flavored or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, nixing soft drinks, and just skipping candy altogether. If you struggle with dropping soft drinks and candy, try changing over to seltzer or soda water, and substituting with sugar-free gum when the urge for a candy binge starts.