Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sodas Linked To Increased Teen Aggression

Could sugary sodas possibly make you violent? A recent study looking at teenagers in Boston public schools has found a possible link between drinking non-diet sodas and an increase in violent behaviors.

What the study found is that the teenagers who drink more than 5 cans (12oz each) of non-diet soda a week showed a 9-15% increased likelihood of engaging in aggressive or violent behavior. Shockingly, the reported effect of sodas on violence closely matches the results that tobacco or alcohol have on teens. With over 30% of teens reporting drinking 5 or more sodas per week, these effects may be more widespread than expected.

As the amount of soda a teen drinks increases, so too does the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Of the studied teens who drink 14 or more cans of soda a week, 42% carried a gun, 58% were violent toward peers, 45% were violent toward a sibling or other child in the family, and almost 27% were violent with their dates. The results showed a dose-dependant response from soda intake -- the more sodas consumed increased the risk of violence by a similar amount.

Whether sugar, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, or some combination of ingredients is causing this shift in behavior is not clear. However, this research strongly suggests that soda intake is in some way related to these risky behaviors. Of course, water is an often overlooked but widely available alternative to sodas, with the added benefit of not causing these symptoms in teenagers who drink it.

Remember, every chemical, from sugar to prescription drugs, that we put in our body has the potential to alter our body’s chemistry in some way. If you’ve ever seen how small children behave on a “sugar high” after eating too much candy, these study results are probably not that surprising. With this study being the first to illustrate this link, the push to stop selling sodas in schools may start to gain some traction.

Researched and written by Dr. Rebecca Malamed, M.D. with assistance from Mr. Malcolm Potter.

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