Another Key to Childhood Behavioral Problems: Avoid This at All Costs

Aggression.  Inattention.  These issues just seem to be getting more and more prevalent in kids all the Time these days.  Last month, I told you how inadequate sleep can greatly increase the risk of aggressive behavior in children.  Recent research has uncovered another culprit in this growing problem:  soft drinks.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York examined almost 3000 children, looking at the average soda consumption and behavioral habits of five-year-olds.  They used maternal reports of the amount of soda consumed, and an assessment called the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).  The results?  Even one soda per day significantly increased problem behaviors.  And with higher soda consumption, the aggression just gets worse.  Four soft drinks per day doubled the score for inattention and withdrawn behavior, and almost quintupled the aggression score, compared to kids who drank no soda.  These differences remained significant even after controlling for other factors, such as intake of other sweets, level of physical activity, and maternal depression.

Interestingly, the researchers did not differentiate among types of soft drinks: regular versus diet, caffeinated versus decaffeinated.  So it is unclear whether this is an issue with sugar, caffeine, or just a marker of an overall poor diet.  Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association capitalized on this uncertainty to state that this study does not prove that soft drinks cause any problem behaviors.  Sure.  Just like they have said that artificial sweeteners are a good alternative to sugar, when science has shown that diet soda is linked to dangerously increased stroke risk and diabetes risk in adults.

To me, this is just another reason to say that pop is an unnecessary health risk, no matter what your age.

Sugila S et al.  Soft Drinks Consumption Is Associated with Behavior Problems in 5-Year-Olds.  J Peds 21 August 2013.

Leave a Comment