In case you needed another reason not to give your children a lot of soda, here is more proof. The latest study on the consumption of soda by children in the Pediatrics journal says it causes aggressive, violent behavior in children as young as 5 years old.
The study, which was conducted at Columbia University, followed the habits of approximately 3,000 mother-child pairs from 20 large cities in the U.S. Mothers were instructed to self-report on the number of servings of soda their child drinks on an average day, and then answer a series of questions on their behavior.
What did the study find? “There was a dose response,” said the study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia, Shakira Suglia. “With every increase in soda consumption, we saw an increase in behavior problems. It was significant for kids who consumed as few as one serving of soda per day.” The behavior problems included things like physical fights, verbal attacks, and destroying other people’s property.
The study reportedly adjusted for other factors like parenting styles, socio-demographic factors, violent TV-watching, sleep schedule, and candy consumption.
The main limitation of the study was the self-reporting, as the researchers had no way to know the exact serving sizes or whether these mothers were giving their kids diet vs. regular soda.
The American Beverage Association disagrees with the findings, noting in a statement to CNN, "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.”
Dietitian Marlo Mittler, who is not associated with the study, said parents should “eliminate or avoid any soda consumption” in order to reduce negative effects on kids’ behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends limiting the intake of caffeinated or sugar-sweetened beverages by children, instructing them to drink calorie-free beverages and milk.
Interestingly enough, however, CNN notes that Americans “continue to buy and drink more soda than those in any other country.”
Two words: common sense! Do you serve your kids soda? If so, how do you manage doing so in moderation?