Teen Violence & Soda Linked?
October 25, 2011 by staff
High school students in downtown Boston who consumed more than five cans of non-food, soft carbonated drinks every week between 9% and 15% more likely to engage in an aggressive act than their counterparts who took less.
“What we found was that there was a strong relationship between the number of sodas that these children within the city consumes and how violent it was, not only violence against their partners, but also dating violence, against brothers, “said David Hemenway, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“It was shocking to us when we saw that the relationship was clear,” he said in an interview.
However, he stressed that only by working more than confirm – or refute – the key question whether a higher consumption of sweet drinks caused violent behavior.
The new study was based on responses to questionnaires completed by 1 878 public-school students between 14 and 18 within the Boston area, where crime rates, said Hemenway were much higher than in the wealthiest suburbs .
The vast majority of respondents were Hispanic, African American or mixed, few were Asian or white.
Among the questions that were the number of non-diet carbonated soft drinks, measured in 355 ml cans, teenagers had drunk in the last seven days.
They were also asked if they drank alcohol or smoked, had a weapon or violence to show their peers, family members and spouses.
What emerged, Hemenway said, was evidence of “dose-response”, in other words, the soft drink was consumed, the more likely the tendency to violence.
Among those who drank one or none of the cans of soda a week, 23% carried a gun or a knife, 15% perpetrated violence toward their partner and 35% had been violent with their partners.
At the other end of the scale, among those who drank 14 cans a week, 43% carried a gun or a knife, 27% had been violent with a partner, and more than 58% had been violent with their partners.
In general, adolescents who were high consumers of sugar ferment between 9% and 15% more likely to display aggressive behavior compared to consumers low, even when ethnicity and other confounding factors were taken into account.
It is similar in magnitude to the link found in the previously investigated, with alcohol or snuff.
Hemenway said the study has included a couple of questions to take a children’s home background into account, even if the teenager had had a meal with his family in the days before.
As expected only as a preliminary investigation, the questionnaire did not ask what kind of soda drinking teens, he said.
“This is one of the first studies to examine” the issue, said Hemenway.
“I do not know why [there is this strong association] may be a causal effect, but it is certainly plausible that this is only an indicator of other problems -. That children who are violent for any reason, they tend to smoke more, tend to drink more alcohol and tend to drink more soft drinks maybe. just do not know.
“We want to see more carefully in the following studies.”
The study, published in a British journal, injury prevention, will revive memories of the “Twinkie Defense”, a landmark U.S. legal in which a murderer successfully argued that his behavior had been influenced by the consumption of junk food.
The defendant in this case, Dan White, was charged with murder. His attorney declared success led to the conviction of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Several studies elsewhere have established a link between very high sugar consumption and lack of social ties or irritable behavior and anti-social.
Some research has also pointed diet finger at the lack of micro-nutrients as a source of aggression, but this work is still in its early stages.
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