Warning: Soda Can Make Young Children Angry
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Common sense advises us against drinking too many soft drinks to help prevent obesity and dental decay. There’s also a connection between sugar-sweetened drinks and behavioral problems in teens. Now, a new study has found a connection between the consumption of soft drinks and behavioral problems in young children as well. The study, scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, shows that aggression, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior are all associated with soft drink consumption in that age group.
The research was carried out by Shakira Suglia, ScD, and colleagues from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, University of Vermont, and Harvard School of Public Health. They assessed approximately 3,000 five-year-old children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a prospective birth cohort that follows mother-child pairs from 20 large U.S. cities.
Mothers reported their child’s soft drink consumption and completed the Child Behavior Checklist based on their child’s behavior during the previous two months. The researchers found that 43% of the children consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day, and 4% consumed four or more.
Among the problems associated with soda consumption are aggression, withdrawal, and attention problems. Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence, and paternal incarceration, soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior.
Children who drank four or more soft drinks per day were more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights, and physically attack people. They also had increased attention problems and withdrawal behavior compared with those who did not consume soft drinks. “We found that the child’s aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day,” said Dr. Suglia.
The data is particularly worrying for Americans, who are the biggest soda guzzlers in the world. The study cannot identify the exact nature of the association between soft drink consumption and problem behaviors, but the recommendation is that limiting or eliminating a child’s soft drink consumption may reduce behavioral problems.
Image credit: Elsevier