Feeling down or anxious? Eating a lot of ultra-process foods such as packaged chips, biscuits and lollies could play a role, results of a recent study suggest.

The research using data collected from a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 adults, looked for ties between the consumption of ultra-process foods – which contain little or no whole food – and mental health issues.

They found that that people who ate the highest amount of ultra-processed foods had statistically significant increases in symptoms of mild depression, “mentally unhealthy days” and “anxious days.”

The researchers note that more than 70% of packaged foods are classified as ultra-processed, and those products make up 60% of all calories consumed.

“The ultra-processing of food depletes its nutritional value and also increases the number of calories, as ultra-processed foods tend to be high in added sugar, saturated fat and salt, while low in protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals”.

The study was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.