Fizzy Drinks Make Teenagers More Violent, Says New Study

By Fiona Howard on October 28, 2011

FIZZY DRINKS MAKE MORE TEENAGERS VIOLENT. In a recent study conducted by a team of researchers in Harvard University and University of Vermont, it was revealed that consumption of soda drinks has a direct effect towards teenagers’ behaviour.   Said study is now published in the British Journal.

How drinking soda affect youth’s behaviour

To come up with the result, the researchers, lead by David Hemenway, professor from the Harvard University School of Public Health conducted a survey to determine what factors affect violence among youth.  They asked 1,878 high school students aged 14 to 18 from public schools in Boston.  They were given questionnaires to find out the aspects that contribute to their violent behaviour with peers and family.  The respondents were asked if they used to bring deadly weapons to school, how many times they eat together with their families, and so on.

One of the questions was regarding the consumption rate of students of soda drinks.   It was found that students who used to consume fizzy soft drinks have higher tendency to engage in violent acts.

It was further revealed that 29.8% of the respondents have been drinking an average of 5 cans per week of non-diet or sugary soft drinks.  According to the researchers, these teenagers who have been used to drinking sodas are likely to engage in binge drinking and smoking.   On the other hand, young people who consumed less or did not consume soda drinks at all showed better relationships with their family and peers.

"What we found was that there was a strong relationship between how many soft drinks that these inner-city kids consumed and how violent they were, not only in violence against peers but also violence in dating relationships, against siblings," professor Hemenway said.

Criticisms

According to critics, the main limitation of the study is its being cross-sectional.  That means, it was not clearly established which occurred first- consumption of fizzy drink or violence.  It should also be noted that there are other factors that affect violence among teenagers and there is no scientific explanation yet on how soft drinks make changes in a person’s mind and behaviour.   Since the study was solely based on the respondents’ answers, there could also be some inaccuracies as to the results.  Even Sara Solnick, co-author of the study and a professor from Vermont University, is sceptical about the real reason why drinking soda makes teenagers more violent.  According to her, the sugar that is used to make sodas is widely used in so many food products.  She added that there are some other ingredients that soft drinks contain that can be considered as factors in the relationship between soda intake and teen violence.

Sara Solnick added the study was made to find the out the factors that affect violence among youth and not actually intended to gauge the effects of soda to their behaviour.  The result actually surprised the researchers.

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