A recent study has found evidence that fast-food and depression are closely linked, and teens in lower-income neighborhoods are the biggest victims. An unhealthy diet without nutrients not only effects the body in a negative way, but can affect teens mental health over time.

Members of the Department of Psychology and the Department of Medicine at the University of Birmingham Alabama examined urine samples from 84 urban adolescents in low-income areas and followed up with their symptoms one and a half year later.

They found large amounts of sodium in their urine, but very little potassium; when the researchers followed up with these youth, they all reported depressive symptoms. This helps us to better understand the long-term impact that eating unhealthy food has on our adolescent’s mental health, as we do already have a very good understanding of what processed and fast foods does to the body.

Another study that was released last month by Cornell University’s Steve Alvarado, showed the connection between teens growing up in disadvantaged communities and their likelihood of becoming obese. Steven Alvarado, an assistant professor of sociology, found that children in disadvantaged neighborhoods are nearly one-third more likely to experience obesity as adults, and that risk is even greater for teens.

The study also talks about the unobserved factors that come into play such as genes- the high stress levels parents can pass onto their children because of the amount of stress they face while dealing with living in poverty.

It’s like a vicious cycle. Families living in a community that is already undeserved and not able to thrive, experience stress that is passed on genetically and their access to healthy, fresh foods is low- causing the youth to eat processed foods high in sodium, affecting their mental and physical health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of children and adolescents effected by obesity in the United States has steadily tripled since the 70’s; health problems surrounding obesity are also playing a huge role on our teen’s bodies and minds.

The CDCP also says that children who are obese, are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, or joint problems. And obesity and depression are known to have a closely linked relationship with one another.

Therefore, people like Steve Alvarado encourage policymakers to create more safe places for children to exercise and play, improve nutritional education, and improve resources for healthy foods in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The research and resources are all there; it just takes a community to come together and better support the futures of our youth.