Soda Contributes to Behavior Problems Among Young Children

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the major culprits in the obesity epidemic, but sodas have also been connected to behavioral problems among teens. That link apparently extends to young kids as well.

Among children 5 years old, according to the latest research, those drinking more sugar-sweetened sodas showed increased aggression, withdrawal and difficulty paying attention than those drinking fewer or none of the beverages.

(MORE: How Sweet Can Become Toxic)

It’s the first time that the effects of sugared beverages have been traced to behavior issues among children so young. But the findings mirror similar trends among adolescents; a 2011 study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that teens who drank more than five cans of soft drinks every week were significantly more likely to have carried a weapon and acted violently toward peers, family members and dates. Another study from the same authors reported that high consumption of soft drinks was associated with a range of aggressive or mood-related behaviors, from fighting, feeling sad or hopeless to even being suicidal.

In the latest study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, parents reported that 43% of the 5-year olds participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study drank at least one serving of soda every day, and 4% consumed four or more servings daily.

In order to evaluate the relationship between the sugared drinks and behavior problems, the researchers adjusted for several factors that can influence behavior, including their mothers’ depression and the children’s diets. Even after this adjustment, the scientists found a significant relationship between more soda consumption and aggressive behaviors that included destroying other people’s belongings, getting into fights and physically attacking others.

What makes soda-drinking kids so unruly? “Soft drinks are highly processed products containing carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sodium benzoate, phosphoric or citric acid, and often caffeine, any of which might affect behavior,” the authors write.

(MORE: Healthy-Lifestyle Ads From Big Soda: Hypocritical or Helpful?)

Caffeine is a likely culprit, since other studies connected the compound with changes in hormone levels that could alter the way still developing brains perceive and evaluate risk. Because caffeine can act on so many brain systems, but there is still little information on its influence on young children, the FDA is currently investigating the safety of caffeine that is added to food products consumed by kids and adolescents, like drinks, chips and even gum.

The sugar in sodas may also affect behavior, though that connection is murkier. A recent study reported that even at doses considered average for human consumption — about four cans of soda in a day — sugar has toxic effects in mice, impairing their ability to establish territories and reproduce. “There are too many unknown variables to say whether or not sugar causes aggression,” says Judy Caplan, a registered dietitian nutritionist for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “I think more studies like this are needed to really understand what role food (sugar) plays in aggression in children. We will have to see what the future confirms.”

While the beverage industry has taken steps to limit children’s access to sugared soft drinks — providing healthier options such as water, fruit juices and skim milk in schools instead–the study highlights how prevalent soda consumption is in the U.S. — even among the very young. According to an American Beverage Association spokesperson, member companies do not promote or market the consumption of soft drinks to children in the age group examined in the study,  but so far the high consumption among  kids doesn’t seem to help them establish and maintain healthy relationships with friends and family.

79 comments
bruna.lake
bruna.lake

Hi Alexandra 

Research has shown that sugar can be as dangerous as alcohol and cigarettes. The tip is difficult access to sweets.
You are one of those people who can not see a cake or a brigadier is already salivating? Always has a bullet or a piece of gum in your pocket? If the answer is yes, enjoy every second of these goodies, as they may become illegal.
No, not yet have a bill wanting to ban the sale of candy running in the Senate from any country, but some scientists have expressed support for this idea. For them, the sugar can be as dangerous as cigarettes and alcohol and that, therefore, their sale should also be restricted.
Although it might sound absurd, criticism is well founded. According to the article The Toxic Truth About Sugar, published in Nature, the substance contributes to the deaths of about 35 million people each year and that, therefore, some laws should be designed to prevent excessive consumption.
One of those responsible for the research, Robert Lustig said that it is not necessary to cut the sugar from your diet, just maneirar at doses because overuse can actually kill the person gradually. In addition, he points out that the large amount of candy is a major cause of childhood obesity around the world and that a restriction would be a more efficient way to end this reality, since awareness showed no results.
The idea of Lustig and his team is not prohibit the marketing of sugar, but difficult access to it. One of the suggestions is to increase taxes on candy products, which would drive consumers. Other proposals make soft drinks can only be sold to adults over 17 or 18 years or prohibit machines chocolates in schools.
Lustig explains that sugar also stirs the aggressively agency, unbalanced hormone levels, altering cardiac pressure and attacking the liver. For him, it is something as harmful as alcohol.
sugar ages
Reports
of researchers from the Netherlands and England show that people over blood sugar age faster. Entire reseach can be found here.
Sweets can be salvation for the bad mood, and especially for the moments of sadness. The problem is that sugar can be a villain at various times, especially when we talk about aging.


BondoTondo
BondoTondo

Sounds like some pretty serious smack dude. Wow.


www.MaxAnony.tk

Jemma
Jemma

Soda is full of sugar and caffeine. This study shouldn't be a big "ah-ha" moment. It can't be just blamed on soda, though. Some fruit juices with healthy-sounding labels are only 15% fruit juice and contain more sugar per serving than a Snickers bar! It's important for kids to play outside, run around with their friends, and explore to get exercise and develop social skills. I think THAT should be blamed more than soda consumption. 

SomewhereOverTheRainbow
SomewhereOverTheRainbow

Poor and uneducated drink more soda

Well to do have money to buy other drinks and tend to be more fitness conscience

MaureenBeach
MaureenBeach

It is a leap to suggest that drinking soda causes these or any other behavioral issue. The science does not support that conclusion. The authors themselves note that their study ‘is not able to identify the nature of the association between soft drinks and problem behaviors.’ Importantly, our member companies do not promote or market the consumption of soft drinks to children in the age group examined in this study.- Maureen at American Beverage Association

neuroscience
neuroscience

@MaureenBeachInstead of soda causing aggression, maybe it's poor sleep?

We know that poor sleep may lead to increased soda consumption. See the 8/2013 study by UC Berkeley suggesting that poor sleep may lead to increased consumption of soda and junk food. Also, poor sleep may cause ADHD, impulsivity, negative emotions, and aggression according to a 2012 brain imaging study:

"Sleep Debt Elicits Negative Emotional Reaction through Diminished Amygdala-Anterior Cingulate Functional Connectivity." Department of Psychophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 4-1-1 Ogawa-Higashi, Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan

ObsessedAmerica
ObsessedAmerica

It is easy to blame soda but in this kid-obsessed country parents do not discipline their kids at all, neither they teach their offspring how to behave respectfully. Before pointing their fingers at something or somebody else, kid-worshiping American parents should reconsider their own behavior with the kids. Worshiping then and kowtowing to them does not do any good. To the contrary, it is harmful for both the kids and the society. More consistency, more discipline, more requirements and there will be no need to blame soda.

http://kidobsessedamerica.com/

lene505
lene505

I agree soda is a very unhealthy beverage.  There are so many new and alternative things to drink.

ADK
ADK

I love a good study, but this sounds a bit like correlation, not causation. Nothing wrong with that, just as long as people know that.

Infoczar
Infoczar

@ADK You are correct, the studies did not test causation and say so but the last two paragraphs of this article try to lead the audience toward making that conclusion. Sad state journalism is in these days. Time is one of the worst. 

tmtm01
tmtm01

Hardly, people have been drinking soda for over 100 years with no ill effects, IQ's started dropping for people born in the early 60's to present and that corresponds with the time our wonderful government started putting fluoride in our water supply, Most of the European Countries and Japan have all quit putting fluoride into their public water supplies as studies have shown in those countries that it effects children's development and on average lowers IQ's by 10 points among other things. 

stenoste
stenoste

in my opinion. a good education is connected with low soda consumption. soda is unhealthy, good parents should not let their children drink it. and parents who take good care of their children will probably have children with no behavioral issues. that's all. no chemistry. ...again, in my opinion.

Aspblom
Aspblom

Most mass murder was committed while drinking soda

Rachel421
Rachel421

I was one of those kids who actually was given coffee at an early age. Specifically, it was a small amount, once a week.

I was also one of those kids who frequently was given a tiny glass of wine.

I was not, however, given soda.  I was an older child before I even realized soda could be bought for the home.  

The end result:  I occasionally drink coffee; I more frequently have a glass of wine with dinner; I rarely drink soda and don't keep it in the house unless I'm expecting guests; I've never had behavioral issues; I've never been drunk nor had a hangover; I was an honor's student; I have excellent blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels; I'm at a healthy size and weight.

What amazes me is the number of Americans who are led to believe that any alcohol is bad yet load up their kids on caffeine, sugar and high-fat junk foods.  (I grew up in Texas and I understand this is exactly why the Bible Belt has such high levels of obesity and heart disease.)  Because I learned there was nothing taboo about alcohol, I've never binged on alcohol, nor have I driven long distances for the purpose of getting smashed far away from supervision.  The result was that I was always the reliable one who was usually asked to be the designated driver.  The behaviors we teach our children last a lifetime.  If 43% of parents give their 5-year-old kids a soda a day, 43% of parents suck at their job.  There have been countless studies showing even one soda a day contributes to the obesity and diabetes epidemic - in adults!  Combine this with the sad reality that most kids aren't physically active.  No wonder we have so many problems.

ChristinaNorman
ChristinaNorman

@Rachel421"What amazes me is the number of Americans who are led to believe that any alcohol is bad yet load up their kids on caffeine, sugar and high-fat junk foods." That's because the soft drink and junk food industry spends billions of dollars to make americans believe that their product is either good for them or at the very least not bad for them. Yesterday, I saw a report that because sales of diet soft drinks are down, Coke and Pepsi are now launching a multi-media campaign claiming that the artificial sweetner Aspartame, a proven toxin, is not bad for your health, even though many books have been written proving the exact opposite. My take is it's up to the american people to stop being so stupid and believing what these companies and their ads tell them and do their own independent research. Or better yet, listen to what you body is telling you. I too do not drink soda, coffee, etc and I have never taken an antacid in my life. Why? Because indigestion and discomfort are signals from your body that whatever you are consuming is not agreeable to your body so that is a warning sign to cease feeding it whatever you are feeding your body. Yet 99 out of 100 people ignore the signal and instead use an antacid to try to mask the signal and then pay for it with poor health or disease in the end.



Rachel421
Rachel421

@ChristinaNorman @Rachel421 I agree.  It doesn't help that programs aired for children are laden with commercials advertising fast foods, junk cereals and sodas.  Then we're taught that every health issue can be treated with a pill - and that the side effects of certain pills can be treated with other pills.  We're the only country I've seen that has commercials for pharmaceuticals on regular TV.  We've turned disease into a for-profit industry.  We shouldn't be surprised that so much of our culture only makes us and keeps us ill.

CarlaGilbert
CarlaGilbert

A bunch of hooey! It has also been proven that caffeine helps children with ADD become more alert and focused. A responsible parent can certainly let a 5 year old drink a soda once in awhile. I raised two kids who drank sodas on occasion and they did not carry guns or become criminals. I think if you want a result on a study you can probably make it turn out how ever you want it to. Seems that way lately. Silly. Obviously sodas are fattening. Nothing new. Won't stop me. I've had at least one a day for 70 years and am just fine. Not overweight, happy, not aggressive. My stepmother had one for breakfast everyday of her life practically and she lived to be 87 and not overweight. A pillar of our community.  Balance as always is key.

Rachel421
Rachel421

@CarlaGilbert Did you actually read the article?  It isn't about a 5-year-old who drinks an occasional soda, but rather about the 43% of parents who let their 5-year-olds drink a soda a day, while 4% allow their kids to drink 4 or more sodas a day.  This isn't "moderation."  It should be called "child abuse."  

Even one soda a day greatly increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and other serious ailments - in adults.  Those who drank two sodas a day increased their risk of stroke.  Now we have parents who think that it's just fine teaching kids to reach for a soda when they are thirsty, combined with the fact that these kids aren't anywhere near as active as kids were even one generation ago.  

This is why we have some serious problems.

ChristinaNorman
ChristinaNorman

@CarlaGilbert  Where has it been proven that caffeine helps children with ADD? If you cite some study, I guarantee you that there is another study stating the exact opposite.

KristinaReneeGrant
KristinaReneeGrant

@ChristinaNorman @CarlaGilbert While nothing in science can be "proven" it is thought that caffeine can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD because it is a stimulant.  This is the same reason that drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), which are also stimulates are used for the treatment of ADHD.  Most of these drugs, including Ritalin are actually methamphetamines.  While this paradox of how stimulants help to combat hyperactivity is not completely known,it's thought to play a role in helping the brain control and utilize the excess amounts of dopamine in the brains of those with ADHD, thus increasing things such as concentration and attention.  If you want more information or would like to see actual research papers on the matter, a simple search on pubmed will give you thousands of actual research papers on the effects of stimulants in those with ADHD and their respective brain functions.  hope this helps to clarify things for you.

MichaelSweden
MichaelSweden

I drink 16 sodas a day, don't you dare come and tells me that it increases my level of aggression. WHAT!#%&¤!!!

DanSilagi
DanSilagi

Typical commucrap from Bloomberg's apparatchiks.  Now that people have for the most part quit smoking, let's get annother boogieman to excoriate.  Of course, apple juice has just as much sugar and just as many calories as non-diet soda, but has anyone run a study linking apple juice with bad behavior?  The soda nazis, starting with His Imperial Lowness, Michael Bloomberg, will stop at NOTHING to impose their communistic will upon the "masses."

tmtm01
tmtm01

@DanSilagi true, they want everyone to get dumbed down by the fluoride they are putting in the drinking water if you drink soda you are getting your daily dose!

ruraynor
ruraynor

4 cans of soda a day considered average? Or just the equivalent amount of sugar? Either way, that's disturbing.

ChristinaNorman
ChristinaNorman

@ruraynorOne can of soda has the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar. Considering that hyperactivity, (a key factor in aggression in children) is strongly sugar connected, I don't see why folks would be surprised by these soda findings. 



StormyWeather
StormyWeather

Not as sure as most about this. I helped care for 3 daughters of a friend and one was ADD as heck. She couldn't keep her mind on things when her prescription ran out. We'd give her a can of Mountain Dew and she'd be just fine throughout the day. These reports are only meant apparently to deflect from the real bad foods that have more sugar in them than a can of soda.....LIKE MILK, and other sugar enhanced items along with GMO foods changing the DNA of people. There is nothing wrong with a child having soda....it just has to be in moderation with everything else.

ChristinaNorman
ChristinaNorman

@StormyWeather  "There is nothing wrong with a child having soda" That's a matter of opinion and I find it curious that you would be against GMO foods when sodas are all artificial and chemical. Keep in mind, a can of soda has the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar. Would you intentionally give your kid 12 teaspoons of sugar at one pop multiple times a day? 



KristinaReneeGrant
KristinaReneeGrant

There is a big difference in good calories and bad calories. Same with good fats and bad fats.

Your comments are making me wonder if your a troll or just that ignorant. :/

Scary.

shimmyshakemn
shimmyshakemn

Almost half of these 5 year olds have at least 1 can of soda a day?! Is it possible that their parents who give their young children soda just stink at doing their job and that's the cause of carrying weapons, aggression, etc? 

SamB19
SamB19

Exactly.  Parents ignorant enough to give their 5 yr olds daily soda...  Of course their kids tend to show bad manners and aggression and other behavioral problems.