Poor nutrition and the effects on behavior has long been a controversial body of research. Do teens who consume more soda get involved in more fights and come off more aggressively? Does the excess sugar in soft drinks affect the brain, leading to violent acts? Soda drinks are certainly not a healthy form of beverage and has the ability to influence mood in children and adolescents.
Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center in Boston performed a study hoping to link teenagers who drink large amounts of soda to the rise in fights in and out of school. As well as the possibility that teenagers bringing weapons to school was also motivated by soft drink consumption. David Hemenway, who headed up the project admitted to be very surprised how massive the affect seemed to be. “It was maintained even when we controlled for alcohol, tobacco and family issues like eating dinners together.” It was revealed that there was a very solid, stable relationship between soft drinks consumption and the increase in fighting such as pushing and shoving.
A previous study performed in Norway in 2006 showed that teens who consumed significant amounts of soda proved to suffer from extreme mental health issues, than those compared to kids that drank less. Not only that but another study published earlier this year was able to link high levels of antisocial behaviors in American college students who drank a lot of soft drinks.
The Harvard Public Health study, published in “Injury Prevention” surveyed around 1,800 students in Boston public schools. All questions related to the quantity of soda consumed per the seven day week and if they has experienced violence or had been violent towards each other (including any possible weapons used in the previous year). The connection to indulging in alcohol and tobacco use was high among those who abused soda. In respect to carrying weapons, twenty-three percent of adolescents who drank less than one soft drink a week reported having a weapon on their person, compared to the forty-three percent who consumed five or more cans of soda week. Actual violence towards peers increased from thirty-five percent in the low-consumption group to fifty-nine percent in the heaviest soda-drinkers.
Even with all this research being put into place it seems it is far too soon to blame violence on the amount of soda intake….thus far there are only correlations being revealed. Most research has displayed that there is growing evidence though, sugar can definitely be a problem and also has addictive properties. The willpower directly related to how the brain metabolizes glucose may dictate violence being perpetrated in individuals. Any abnormalities involved in the glucose-digesting process may lend to people committing acts of violence. Researchers, who included the “The Twinkie Defense” (in 1979 a case took place where a lawyer argued that Dan White, who was tried for murder, had “diminished capacity” because of junk food intake) in the title of the paper , that causation is not being suggested, however their intentions were to understand the factors that could build a link between diet and violence.