Soft Drinks, Problem Children Linked in New Study


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Soda is ubiquitous in the U.S. Restaurants, gas stations, and vending machines entice Americans with the inexpensive sugary drinks on a daily, if not hourly, basis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), children and adolescents are particularly fond of soda. Now, a new study by a team of health researchers from Columbia, Vermont, and Harvard universities has linked soft drinks to undesirable behavior in children.

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that aggression, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior in children are all associated with soda consumption. Those children who drank four or more servings of soda per day were twice as likely to display violent behavior, such as fighting, attacking people, and destroying things that don't belong to them. These results were seen even when adjusting for different factors in the children's life, such as jailed fathers, domestic violence, and depressed mothers.

"We found that the child's aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day," said Shakira Suglia, lead author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at Columbia.

Suglia and her colleagues looked at around 3,000 5-year-olds in Columbia and Princeton University's Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. 43% of the children in the study were found to drink at least one serving of soda per day. Though the study did not determine exactly how soda may cause children to become aggressive, it's authors did suggest that reduced soda consumption could mitigate their poor behavior.