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Too Much Fruit Diet Can Worsen Depression in Kids: Study

Going against the norm that fruits are good for health, a new study found that forcing your children to have too much fruit during adolescence can have negative consequences as a diet high in fructose, found naturally in fruits, may exacerbate their depressive behaviours.

The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive and anxiety-like behaviour and alter how the brain responds to stress, the findings showed.

“Our results offer new insights into the ways in which diet can alter brain health and may lead to important implications for adolescent nutrition and development,” said lead author Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta.

Fructose stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioural effects, including worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety, the researchers found.

Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain’s stress response.

For the study, the researchers gave both adolescent and adult rats either a standard or a high-fructose diet. After 10 weeks, the adolescent rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behaviour.

A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered. The findings were presented Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience at Washington DC.

One comment

  1. Jacob Shreckengost

    Fruit is a minimal source of fructose in the average diet. Think about “high fructose corn syrup” and all of the myriad foods and drinks that contain it. This study in no way links fruit consumption to anxiety/depression; not to mention that it was done in rodents, not children. There may be one or two teensy differences in these species. Your title is exceedingly misleading. Please ensure your science is correct before publishing.

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