August 16th, 2013
12:15 AM ET
Does soda make kids violent?
Yet another study is warning parents to limit soda consumption with children. While previous studies have linked soda consumption with higher rates of obesity, a study published in the journal Pediatrics, says it also causes aggressive, violent behavior in children as young as 5 years old.
Researchers at Columbia University followed the habits of about 3,000 mother-child pairs from 20 large cities in the United States. While the children were followed since birth in the long-term study, the data pertaining to soda consumption was compiled when the children were 5 years old. Researchers asked the mothers to self-report how many servings of soda their child drinks on a typical day, and then answer a series of behavioral questions.
Children who consumed at least four servings of soda per day were twice as likely than those who didn't drink any soda to display aggressive violent behaviors - such as destroying other people’s belongings, starting physical fights and verbally attacking other children. The kids were also more likely to have trouble paying attention to instructions, and were more withdrawn socially compared to 5-year-olds who didn’t consume soda.
“There was a dose response,” said Shakira Suglia, study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. “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 association was present after researchers adjusted for parenting styles, and socio-demographic factors such as how much violent television the children were exposed to, their sleep schedule, and candy consumption.
Because researchers relied on self-reporting by mothers, they were unable to pinpoint the type of soda (diet versus regular), or the exact serving size associated with the increase in negative behavior.
The American Beverage Association disagrees with the findings of this study. In a statement to CNN, the group said: "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.”
The researchers say their findings add to the mounting evidence that soda consumption has a negative effect for children.
Other experts warn to limit soda consumption. “Despite the multitude of studies exposing the negative effects of soda consumption, Americans continue to buy and drink more soda than those in any other country,” said Marlo Mittler, registered dietician from Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, and not affiliated with the study. “In an effort to reduce the effects on a child's possible negative behavior, it is suggested to eliminate or avoid any soda consumption.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends parents and caregivers limit giving children caffeinated or sugar-sweetened beverages, and should instead offer them calorie-free beverages and milk.
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Could someone please, please, please repeat the study differentiating sugar-sweetened soda from artificially sweetened soda.
I'd rather they started with caffeinated and non-caffenated. I've always understood that pediatricians mostly agree that "sugar high" is not a real thing. Half-joking when I say that it makes sense considering placebo groups aren't consistently reporting feeling really hyper during medication studies.
Guys, I just had a Mountain Dew, I'm feeling angry. New report: Does Orange Juice make you sad.
It is soda. It just makes brain bubble.
Totally agree. When my son started having seizures one of the first things his neuro asked us was if we were giving him artificial sweeteners. I guess it does a lot of damage to a young developing brain. I have to say I was a little offended though, Jake was only 10 mths, at the time.
This study was crap, so could everyone please NOT repeat it for any other purposes?
It was purely observational, which means the soda consumption was chosen by the parent and/or child, it was NOT an experiment with a true control group.
Maybe there could be a link between parents who allow their children to drink so much soda are lax in other areas of parenting, leading to children who are lacking in decent behavior. I say this as a father of an 8 year old.
My thoughts exactly, Lee...poor parenting leads to violent behavior. I don't need a study to show me that. Sheesh!
“There was a dose response,” said Shakira Suglia, study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. “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.”
What is it that you don't understand about soft drinks being crap food?
HERE HERE! From a father to two grown daughters.
You have to keep in mind that these "studies" are being performed by university "professors" who's main purpose in life is "Publish or Perish". That is, these people that can't get a job in industry HAVE to conduct 'studies" and HAVE to publish them lest they lose their job. The quality of these "studies" are typically sub par. Remember, there is a reason that those of us in industry (I'm and electrical engineer) do not hire these people. 😉
The article states: "The association was present after researchers adjusted for parenting styles..."
As other commentors have said, the study incorporated parenting styles and other variables. As an electrical engineer, you should be aware that the majority of the science your field relies on was developed by those university professors of which you speak so negatively. SHOULD be aware, but obviously you aren't. Engineers aren't scientists, and you just proved why that is an important distinction.
To quote a great author, "Scientist dream of doing great things, engineers do them." 😉
It is a very important distinction indeed. While one deals in the idealistic, the other deals in reality. I'll go with engineer every time because what he does works more than just in theory.
I agree. This sounds like a "bad parenting reaction" more than a "dose reaction". No engaged, responsible parent serves a 5-year-old four or more glasses of pop a day. Stands to reason that a parent this lax with their child's diet is lax in other important ways as well.
You are correct. Anything too high causes adverse effect. We have to taste everything once in a while, not regularly.
That's what I'm figuring. Anyone whose 5 year old is having 4 servings of soda a day is likely a crappy parent in other areas too – and I say this as a parent well familiar with the difficulties of getting picky kids to eat well.
As the mother of five grown children I had the same exact thought.
That is an excellent point. ( I was thinking the same thing!)
"That is, these people that can't get a job in industry HAVE to conduct 'studies" and HAVE to publish them lest they lose their job. The quality of these "studies" are typically sub par."
Really? You are correct in the publish or perish aspect for many of the top tier universities, but incorrect in your sweeping assertions about the quality of science. Yes, there are sub par studies, just as their are sub par engineers. Also, I am a, assistant professor who could easily get a job in the "industry" as you put it. I've have multiple job offers, but I enjoy teaching at a college level, I choose my schedule and my research agenda, and I get plenty of time off for traveling. So no, I don't HAVE to publish or HAVE to be a professor. I CHOOSE to be because I enjoy it.
Scott, one thing engineers don't do is science. So while you're off building things both necessary and unnecessary, we're providing the groundwork of knowledge that you rely upon. So while you may have opinions on things regarding science, you don't really have any credibility to discuss them.
I'm an engineer, but don't feel there needs to be any animosity toward research Scientists, such as "Remember, there is a reason that those of us in industry (I'm and electrical engineer) do not hire these people."
Yes, their is a reason. Different skill sets. Of course, you would know that if you were truly in a hiring position.
It's unprofessional, amateur, and arrogant to think anything about engineers being better than scientists. The work engineers do is directly backed-up by the the work research scientists do.
In fact, today I am using products in my unit that a year ago were on a scientists desk. They do the research and engineers find a way to produce it outside of a lab or find a use for it.
Their is also an R&D site just down the road from me. The scientists develop the new products and the engineers figure out how to make it on an industrial scale.
Of course, most people who make comments like that are new engineers or engineering students. You should need to stop and think about those comments as you are giving engineers a bad name.
Thank you, Shape. I have a ton of respect for the engineers I work with. My father is also an engineer. To hear disdain for scientists coming from an engineer is disheartening. What this country needs is more scientists and engineers developing and utilizing science to make our society and environment a better place.
where is the report on wiskey?
It is known to cause people to misspell words. 😉
The fact that the results were dependent on self-reporting does pose a limitation because people can exaggerate or under report and it’s based on perception. Also the serving size of the drinks can vary significantly across each family. I think the investigators should have standardized the amount to be given daily. This research does however add on to the overwhelming amount of studies that find soda to not be beneficial to kids. According to Natural Standard database, caffeine has mood-altering effects because It stimulates the CNS and increased levels of dopamine. This can create feelings of alertness, insomnia, and heightened mood. These feelings combined with the small degree of self control kids have can be a recipe to negative behavior.
Agree! This is yet another example of the trash "studies" the come out of universities. A "study" performed by the National Enquirer, Star, etc., has about as much integrity.
I see kids lack of self control as a parenting issue...the kids perceive on consequence to bad behavior! I'd tie children's behavior to the ability of a parent to be a good parent! Having a grandchild that was born with a bit of a temper, it has taken my daughter a few years to learn the right parenting techniques for both her children. I have no doubt had my daughter not transitioned to a better parent this sever-year old girl would be on some medication today...that is the more common parenting technique I see today..."if you can't deal with your child, medicate them into submission" Outside of all this, I think most kids have no been taught the idea of self-control.
It's what you call a preliminary study.
You don't start with an idea, and invest a ton of money and time in a full, rigorous study, without some indication there's something to find. First you do a simple study – like this one – and see if there is a chance there is a connection. If there are some positive results, that is when the more rigorous study is indicated, measuring, comparing, etc.
It really doesn't take a study to determine that soda is not good for children. Heck, its not good for adults either. (For the record, I drink it anyway). This does appear to be a pretty shoddy, sloppy study, though. Any study based on simply asking questions (filling out a survey) can't be a scientifically acceptable study.
The problem with this study is that it relies solely on parents reporting behavior. Many other studies have shown that there is no effect on behavior caused by sugar, but there IS a strong effect on parent's perceived behavior of their children. Parents are much more likely to report hyperactive behavior if they believe their children have just consumed sugar – even when they have been duped, and the children had no sugar.
Sorry, but this report's conclusions can't be trusted.
The research did not specify sugar as the culprit in the behavior change. It didn't even differentiate between diet and regular soda. It is a very general and simple introductory study. I wouldn't put to much stock in the findings of such an inconclusive study.
Who gives soda to a 5 year old?
Soda! What about the parents that let toddlers drink from the beer can! When the toddler was 6, he'd suck down the whole can when the parent wasn't watching. By 8 years old, emulated Grandpa but sneaking a double shot of whiskey for the bottle hidden from Grandma! At 52, I'm fine! Here I was raised by 3 people who had no parenting skills!
@MaryBeth – see, this is why the study is not valid. You call parents who give their five year olds soda abusive. I call them stupid, but hardly abusive. Starving, beating, or verbally assulting a child is what I consider abusive. I'd much rather see a parent give a toddler a drink of soda but remain an active parent than one who beats the kid for no reason. Go to any zoo, or anyplace where parents and kids gather. Take a notebook, and count how many parents you see walking around with their stupid phone in their ears, ignoring their kids instead of enjoying the day with their kids. Then they buy their kids apple sticks at McDonalds and give them juice instead of soda and call themselves good parents. It's all in how you perceive things. You and I see things differently...were we part of the study, we'd also see things differently.
If you let your kids drink pop all day you probbaly aren't raising them properly in other areas as well, that' s the real issue.
Not necessarily true. Actually, I agree with not giving kids soda, first of all...but you can give kids healthy snacks all you want – if you aren't doing your job as a parent, then it isn't going to matter what you feed them. A friend of mine let his kids drink whatever they wanted (which I disagreed with). His son is now twenty...and he still lives at home and works several jobs so he can help his parents out financially. and helps them take care of his younger autistic brother. He also helps out his grandfather whenever he can. We tend to think of parents who give their kids soda as white trash who don't take care of their kids and parents who give their kids milk and juice as fine citizens who are exceptional parents...
I know a person who has parenting down to science – and her method is so simple. I keep trying to get her to collaborate on a book with me....but she keeps telling me later...later....
What a waste or research dollars. Any person on the planet could of summized that when someone drinks 4 sodas vs someone that doesn't they are going to be a little more aggressive than the one that didn't. Every high school and college kid learned that prior to studying for finals.
A little more agressive? Read the stats.
People knew that if you dropped an apple, it fell to the ground. However, that alone didn't explain the concept of gravity. One of the most important things science can do for society is to provide evidence about things we think we know. This study showed a relationship between soda consumption and violent behavior. It will spur more research into the mechanism that causes violent behavior. In any case, you know more now than you did yesterday. You only had an idea that soda causes violent behavior – now you have empirical evidence to support that idea.
If the study is a self reporting one how is it a study at all? What a joke and waste of time and money. The "researchers" should be ashamed of themselves.
Givng your children soft drinks should be considered child abuse. Perents, where are you when it comes to helping your child lead a healthy life?
"I bet your kids are fat" ? Are you serious with this? I bet your kids are rude and ignorant.
As a kid I drank my share but turned out healthy and sane(I'm 57 now). We weren't obese back then because we played outside all the time and walked eveywhere-mom and dad didn't drive us everywhere like they do now. Oh, and I never drink the stuff now. Child abuse-get real!
So if that is the worst thing a parent does..then those kids should be taken away? Wow, you got your signals really crossed. Tell me, do you carry red paint in case you see someone wearing fur? Hey, when you are with your kids, are you really there, or are you on your phone? Ignore the babies, but at least don't give 'em soda.
Sorry but that only shows that children served soda did these things. What about he environmental factors? Did those children come from troubled homes? Were their parents abusive? Were the kids lower in IQ to begin with? Were their parents the typical non involved parents except to jump to their defense of their rug rats when they get in trouble? They all breathed air, and lived on earth too. Are air and earth now also guilty? Bad data gathering equals bad data equals bad conclusions.
The association was present after researchers adjusted for parenting styles, and socio-demographic factors such as how much violent television the children were exposed to, their sleep schedule, and candy consumption
There is CO2 in the air too. Why doesn't that make people violent?
Such articles that draw correlations but can't suggest plausible links for causation can be decieving. One can draw up all kinds of correlative data that is meaningless, I'm sure that the graphs showing the increasing prevalence of the diagnosis of autism would somewhat parallel those for car-seat use, breast-feeding rates, cell-phone ownership and SUV sales but no one would suggest a causative link.
Like many studies: interesting and provocative but needs a lot more work.
There are many studies like this. All that they are meant to do is point out an association, this one being between soda and bad behaviour. It is likely that in the conclusions it is stated that more study is needed. The problem is that a journalist without scientific background can easily miss the relavence of a study by reporting what has been highlighted as a finding that needs proof derived from several follow-up studies.
Dont be ridiculous, everyone knows that SUV's cause cell phone usage. they're both rising so it must be true, right?
Don – exactly.
The study isn't the problem, isn't flawed, it's the media that has fun putting provocative preliminary studies up there, it's the public that reads studies without looking enough to know it's preliminary and what it does and does not say.
Maybe it is a case of correlation, not causation. Mothers who are more likely to give in to their child's demands for several sodas may be lax in other areas of discipline, resulting in a child with more behavior problems.
With all of Mary Beth's postings on this topic and the content thereof I'm suspecting that she is one of the slave laborers (grad students) that worked on this "study".
Addendum: Need to add Jesse to this list 😉
Actually, Scott, I'm a professional biologist. In the "industry". Feel free to continue with your misinformed ramblings, its fun watching know-it-all engineers make fools of themselves discussing topics they have no business meddling in.
So this is what passes for science these days? Man! http://xkcd.com/552/
Thumbs up for the xkcd link 🙂
Here's another appropriate one: http://xkcd.com/687/
This is not a scientific study ! Simply a non-objective report. Could be evidence, could not. Def not the scientific method.
Don't know the details of this study, but it is looks like a longitudinal, correlational study. Nothing wrong with that so long as limitations are noted, and implications appropriate.
Please detail how this is not a scientific study.
...Maybe this is because parents who allow their children to consume four servings of crappy soda a day may not have the best parenting skills. Therefore, their children may have behavior problems stemming from having bad parents, not from drinking soda?
Read the article. It clearly states that parenting styles and other variable were taken into account.
"Children who consumed at least four servings of soda per day" HUH?!?!? What parent would allow their kid to drink this much soda each day? It is bad enough that parents with kids as young as 5 and 6 allow them to drink any amount of Mtn Dew, Coke, etc, but 4 servings a day! I say those parents should be charged with child endangerment.
If your Idea of 'Fixing Dinner' is to bring a Two-Liter of Mountain Dew and a Bucket of KFC to feed your kids in front of the TV every night; they are going to be be AMPED-UP, Obese and Toothless
Like many other studies of this type the conclusions are only indicators of an association. In this study, they relied on Mother's self-reporting, and when it comes to the behaviour of children, it is easier to blame something other than parenting. More studies will have to be done before we can conclude soda has a negative impact on childhood behaviour.
Another stupid study which within 6 months time will be debunked by another stupid study.
Takeaway: The social sciences are called "soft" for a reason. This "study" is a perfect example of why.
Why do people still drink this crap, all it does is make me burp so I don't drink it at all. I do drink more than water though, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, etc. Sure they have sugar in them but at least it has some good things too (especially if you choose the right brand), unlike sodas. With the plethora of beverages avaialable if you drink soda excessively anything that happens to you is all on you.
This study is LAUGHABLE,
The correlation of soda to behavioral problems is most likely this:
Families who consume large amounts of soda have a lower SES (socio-economic status). Lower SES is correlated with behavioral problems. It's not the soda people! It's the environment that provides the high volume of soda drinking.
And the lead exposure in old houses and soil. Did the research account for heavy metal exposure in their subjects.
Couldn't this just be a case of kids getting a hyper-active? I mean, at such a young age, a sugar rush is like being on speed, combine that with lack of self control, of course they could get more aggressive.
No such thing as a sugar rush. Have you ever seen a kid go crazy after eating Wonder bread or white rice? They deliver just as much glucose to the body as soda.It is the caffeine and possibly other additives that are in the soda that are likely responsible for the behavior changes.
I'm 32 and have at least 2 liters of soda every day for as long as I can remember, and I've had no health problems.
When you hit 35 the soda addiction will hit you.
Perhaps another conclusion that could also be drawn is that children that are taught a higher level of discipline by their parents also have less issues with violence. When parents naturally limit their child's exposure to soda, candy, etc. they are teaching them a greater level of self control, promoting good habits and natural discipline towards the authority figures that regulate their intake of these items.
Just a thought. I mean we can always blame chemicals we put in our drinks and foods but then again, adults are the ones putting these chemicals into our food, drinks, and water table. So in the end it still is technically our fault.
I started drinking soda when I was ten. Still drinking it 50 years later. Been trying to quit for fifty years and can't do it. My drink of choice is ginger ale. Figured it settled my stomach at ten and it could do it at 60.But look at the price I had to pay. Years of trying to quit. I have had to suppress decades of violent tendencies and am about to explode. I let me kid drink it and he joined the wrestling team. My life is a living hell. I still get cavities. And they have to fill them. Where was this study when I needed it. Nobody cares.
What tools are giving their 5 year olds sodas for Pete's sake? Seriosly. Parents? What are you feeding these delicate, growing, forming bodies? Hell, I'm worried my kid isn't getting enough Omega-3 and people are pouring up to FOUR of these chemical coctails down their kids throats?
It's ok, these kids today will have soooo many health problems, that they will probably end up dieing young. The good part of that is that we are over crowding anyway. I've never understood people, they get soooo angry when you tell them they need to cut back on red meat, or meat, or soda or salt. They also always have the same answer, I'll die fat and happy. Well, most wont, most will died horribly, hugely over weight, confined to a wheel chair, tubes in their nose, intestines dieing and the list goes on. These same people will spend tons of money to put the best oil, oil filters, fuel filters, air intakes, tires and so on, on their vehicles. They treat their cars better then they do their bodies. I just don't get it, lazyness maybe?
Does not surprise me. My grandson, 16, goes through the equivalent of 12 cans of soda in two days. He is verbally abusive and has caused damage to his bedroom.Of course he also downs Monster on top of it. He lives with me. He won't listen to his mother or I. Any input results in a tirade of cursing. I am sure eventually his kidneys will be a problem if he doesn't get diabetes first
Lady, you've got problems. If you and his mother can't get a grip on a 16 y/o, it's probably too late. And I'm sure it didn't happen overnight.
Or maybe.... Just maybe, any parent that would care so little about parenting to allow a kid to have 4 sodas a day also is lacking in other areas of discipline as well.
So maybe its less the soda and more the poor parenting.
Just a thought.
Lazy parents let their kids consume all kinds of junk foods, and allow them to engage in hours of mindless video/tv.
Good parenting is hard work.
Wonder how many millions of dollars were granted by the US Government to fund this nonsensical study?
Every article in all the news website discuss only about soft drinks alone. But they left out consumption of alcohol. In US, leading cause of accidental deaths are people who consume alcohol. I know for this discussion, my writings are irrelevant, but i had this thought for a while. Why can't we pass a law, those who drinks in social places (bars, parties and so on) have not to pass legal limit, if they do so, one who is selling should be responsible for accidents..
Did they survey the parenting skills of the parents? Please don't give people more excuses other than the fact, that they are terrible parents!
We don't let our sons drink any soda or eat any candy/junk food, nor do we have TV service/video games/movies, and they still have these kinds of issues. They are also accountable for all of their behavioral choices at home and at school. So ... I have to agree with the American Beverage Association here. I also suggest there must be other factors at work, but this study obviously doesn't go far enough.
Soda in and of itself is horrible for the body. But the problem really lies with many parents who let their children drink and eat garbage.
My trouble with the study is that there seems no recognition that parents who give their children lots of soda are different from parents who restrict their children's access to soda. There is a major difference in parenting going on, and probably some significant genetic differences as well between the families of the "lots of soda" and "little or no soda" children. There is simply not enough information to narrow the culprit in the observed behavioral differences to just the soda consumption (much as that conclusion coincides with my prejudices– my kids did not get much soda).
When I drink a bunch of diet coke, I feel bloated and gross all day until I drink a ton of water. Same goes with certain processed foods and drinks. I figured this crap out on my own a long time ago.
Leave it to CNN to run a two year-old study with methodological wholes the size of semi-trucks as "front page" news. Good lord.
Funny....Ya'll told me that it was the tv programs they watched and the video games they played that did this. Now it is soda consumption? Me thinks you have run out of valid conditions to study, or grant application ideas. My son that had the problems admits he was just being a little pr*ck to get attention. Put that in your "study".
There is a huge segment of the population that will not be swayed by any negative information that is discovered in research studies. People already know that soda is just liquid candy. People aren't conducting longitudinal research about the long term consumption of any other candy and its affect on the body. This study in particular is worthless because it didn't differentiate between diet and non diet soda, or whether all of the sodas were caffeinated. Since caffeine is the mood altering drug in the soda that should be the focus.
Stories like this one also point out the lack of understanding of the scientific method on the media's part about food research and the affects on the body. It is a very new field of study, so there is so much to be discovered. The way the media reports on food science makes the public think that those scientists can't make up their minds. People are more apt to ignore information that they perceive to in constant contradiction either to itself or to the person's long held beliefs about a topic.
All together now:
"Correlation does not imply causation!"
Processed fast food + carbonated drinks X No exercise= 36 percent obesity rate in America (adults)
Soda= Nutritional Suicide! Enjoy your Big Gulps because when your at that Dr's office remember this post...
Yes,SODA DOES MAKE YOU KIDS VIOLENT!!!!
Soda has chemicals in it that YOUR BODY DOES NOT NEED!! And If you PUT that in YOUR BODY,you BODY will act accordingly and start to malfunction!!!!! Resulting in violent and deviant behaviors!
Deviant behavior like random capitalization and extraneous exclamation points!
"Children who consumed at least four servings of soda per day"
Ok I'm done reading. I drank a LOT of soda growing up... But MORE THAN 4 PER DAY?!
When kids are drinking more than 4 per day, then the parents having SERIOUS parenting issues already. Serious, I say, because they are obviously unable to do one (or both) of two things: setting limits, and giving a s– t about about their kids consume.
Seems common sense to me to not let your kid consume too much of anything.