A study conducted in Hangzhou, China, has found that frequent consumption of fried foods, particularly fried potatoes, is associated with a 12% higher risk of anxiety and a 7% higher risk of depression. The study assessed 140,728 individuals over an 11.3-year period and found that young men and younger individuals were more affected by the link. The researchers compared the effects of fried food consumption in humans and acrylamide exposure in zebrafish to suggest that frequent consumption of the chemical commonly found in fried food could have a negative effect on mental health.

Experts in nutrition have cautioned that the results are preliminary and that it is unclear whether fried foods are causing mental health issues or whether people experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety turn to fried foods as a form of self-medication. Despite this, the researchers pointed out that the study results emphasize the importance of reducing the consumption of fried food for mental health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing consumption of fried foods may be helpful for mental health as well as overall health. Dr. Katz also noted that a lack of variety in food has been shown to decrease well-being.