Acrylamide in Fried Foods Linked with Depression, Anxiety: Study

We have been publishing scientific research linking additives in fast foods and ultra-processed foods sold in grocery stores with depression and anxiety for a number of years. Now, a new scientific study has linked acrylamide*–a chemical resulting from frying certain foods, especially potatoes–to depression and anxiety.  In fact, the more fried foods people eat, the worse things get for their mental health..scientists found that regular consumption of fried foods is linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety in humans.**

Study overview

Researchers analyzed data from 140,728 people from the UK Biobank. Data included fried food consumption and incidence of anxiety and depression during an average follow-up period of 11.3 years. By the end of the study period, the researchers identified 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 cases of depression.

Overall, they found that those consuming more than one serving of fried food per day had a 12% higher risk of anxiety and a 7% higher risk for depression than non-consumers.

Frequent consumers of fried food were most likely to be males, younger and active smokers. They also were more likely to be less educated, have more obesity and medical problems, and lower income levels.

“Next, the researchers investigated possible mechanisms for the link between fried food and depression and anxiety. This was accomplished by observing how chronic exposure to acrylamide affected zebrafish over time. They found that exposing fish to low concentrations of acrylamide induced anxiety-like and depression-like behavior. From further tests, the researchers found that acrylamide reduced lipid metabolism, induced neuroinflammation, and impaired the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.” source


There have been numerous studies linking chemicals in highly processed foods like french fries, pizza and other fast food offerings, as well as ultra-processed, prepared boxed meals and snacks sold in grocery stores to serious health effects such as depression, frailty, anxiety, cognitive decline, obesity, digestive/intestinal problems, heart, liver and kidney disorders, diabetes, dementia, cancer and early, premature death. For consumers who want to reduce their risks for developing these health conditions***, the wise thing to do is to minimize consumption of these foods.

*Acrylamide has also been linked in scientific studies to obesity, metabolic syndrome and neurological disorders.


**The scientists demonstrated that long-term exposure to acrylamide induces anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors via oxidative stress-mediated neuroinflammation, and unravel the underlying mechanism that PPAR signaling pathway mediates acrylamide-induced lipid metabolism disorder in brain. 


*** SEE some of our other scientific study posts on highly processed foods and serious health outcomes:

Nitrite Additives in Processed Foods Linked with Diabetes

Processed Foods Linked to Obesity: Study

Ultra-Processed Foods Linked with Cognitive Decline: Study

Ultra-Processed Foods Linked with Dementia

Highly Processed Foods may Harm Memory

IBD Risk Increases with Ultra-Processed Foods

Highly Processed Foods Again Linked with Obesity, Disease

Ultra-Processed Foods Damage Your Heart: Study

Two More Studies Link Ultra-Processed Foods with Serious Health Risks and Early Death

Processed Foods Trigger Weight Gain: NIH study

Cancer risk linked with diet of highly processed foods: New study

Highly Processed Junk Foods Linked to Lower Academic Test Scores

Ultra-Processed Food Increases Risk for Ovarian, Breast and Other Cancers: Study

Chemical Additives in Processed Food Cross the Placenta, Damage Babies’ Immune System, say scientists

Ultra-Processed Food Additives Increase Risk for Second Heart Attack, Stroke

Increased Death Risk from Highly Processed Food Additives: Researchers

Processed Food Additive Linked to Autism: New Study

Highly Processed Food may Make You Old Before Your Time

Depression and Frailty Linked to Ultra-Processed Food

Highly Processed Diet Linked with Lowered Sperm Count: Study

Two More Studies Link Ultra-Processed Foods with Serious Health Risks and Early Death

Processed Foods Trigger Weight Gain: NIH study


Journal reference: Anli Wang, et al.  High fried food consumption impacts anxiety and depression due to lipid metabolism disturbance and neuroinflammation, PNAS Journal, April 24, 2023, 120 (18) e2221097120