Teen violence had a “significant and strong” link with soda drink consumption in a new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Boston high school students were asked how often they drank non-diet soda drinks, and whether they had taken part in violence with a peer or carried a weapon.
The study, published in the British journal Injury Prevention, found a surprising connection between the two factors.
“Adolescents who drank more than five cans of soft drinks per week (nearly 30 per cent of the sample) were significantly more likely to have carried a weapon and to have been violent with peers, family members and dates,” researchers wrote.
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Frequent soda drink consumption was associated with a 9 to 15 per cent increase in the probability of a teenager engaging in an aggressive act, even after controlling for other factors including gender, age, race, sleep patterns, alcohol and tobacco use, and whether the teenager has dinner with their family.
“It was shocking to us when we saw how clear the relationship was,” David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Agence France-Presse.
AFP says the study was based on answers to questionnaires filled out by 1,878 high school students aged 14 to 18 from Boston’s inner city.
“There was a significant and strong association between soft drinks and violence,” researchers concluded.
“There may be a direct cause-and-effect relationship, perhaps due to the sugar or caffeine content of soft drinks, or there may be other factors, unaccounted for in our analyses, that cause both high soft drink consumption and aggression.”
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