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2011-11-04

Drinking Soda/Pop Linked to Youth Violence

Who knew cola was so healthy!
Health practitioners and Public Health advocates have criticized consumption of carbonated soft drinks because they fill people up with empty calories, sugar, and sometimes caffeine, but this newly published study suggests that the drinks also may be linked with violent behaviour in teenagers.

The lead author claims this was the first study to find this correlation, but admits the link needs more study, stressing that the sugar and caffeine content in the drinks were unknown, and that other factors not accounted for in the analysis (but related to high soft drink consumption) could possibly lead to aggression.

After controlling for sex, age, race, body mass index, typical sleep patterns, tobacco use, alcohol use, and having family dinners, the investigators found that high consumption of carbonatedsoft drinks was associated with a 9-15% greater probability of aggressive behaviours. Heavy soft drink use had about the same effect as tobacco and alcohol on violence.

The study found that teens who drank more than five 12-ounce cans of soft drinks weekly were more likely to carry a weapon and commit violence against friends, dates, and siblings.

The study also found a dose-response relationship, with the strongest association for teens drinking 14 or more cans per week (average of only 2 cans/day). Of those adolescents, 42.7% carried a gun or knife, 58.6% were violent toward their peers, 26.9% were violent toward dates, and 45.3% perpetrated violence toward other children in their family.

Interestingly, the study did not show a relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity, which has been shown in other studies. However, heavy soft drink use was also associated with other outcomes like not getting sufficient sleep and using alcohol and tobacco in the last 30 days.

It's definitely an interesting study, but I'm going to tread cautiously on this one. There are just too many unknowns in this study. I'm no fan of soft drinks -- let that be clear -- but this study would need to be reproduced by other researchers before I give it more weight.

Source: The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students

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