Sugary soft drinks linked to aggressive behavior in children
If obesity, tooth decay, diabetes and other health problems aren't enough to convince parents that sugary soda is bad for children, maybe they'll pay attention to a new study that links soda to aggression, attention problems and withdrawal behavior in young children.
It's established that too much sugar isn't good for kids, but now there's proof it's bad for the people around them, too.
Consumption of too many sugary soft drinks has already been connected to aggression, depression and suicidal thoughts in adolescents, but this latest study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found evidence of similar problems in younger kids.
Shakira Suglia, ScD, and colleagues from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, University of Vermont, and Harvard School of Public Health, studied about 3,000 5-year-old children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. That study has mothers report their child's soft drink consumption and complete a checklist based on their child's behavior during the previous two months.
Researchers found that 43 percent of the children consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day, and 4 percent consumed four or more a day.
Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence and paternal incarceration, soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior, withdrawal and attention problems. 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.
"We found that the child's aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day," Suglia said.
Tight school budgets and the popularity of conventional video games have made it more and more likely kids will spend time staring at a screen instead of running outside and burning off those extra calories from sugar.
It's up to the adults in their lives to make sure the calorie intake on one side of the equation balances or exceeds the energy output on the other.