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Could Soft Drinks Fuel Aggression, Attention Problems in Kids?

Could Soft Drinks Fuel Aggression, Attention Problems in Kids?A new study has found a link between the consumption of soft drinks and aggression, attention problems and withdrawal behavior in young children.

Researchers found that 5-year-olds who drank four or more sodas a day were more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights and physically attack people.

They also had increased attention problems and withdrawal behavior compared with children who did not consume soft drinks, according to the study, which is slated to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Shakira Suglia, Sc.D., and colleagues from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, University of Vermont, and Harvard School of Public Health assessed approximately 3,000 5-year-old children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which follows mother-child pairs from 20 large U.S. cities.

Mothers reported their child’s soft drink consumption and completed the Child Behavior Checklist based on their child’s behavior during the previous two months.

The researchers found that 43 percent of the children consumed at least one soft drink a day, while 4 percent consumed four or more servings.

Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence, and paternal incarceration, any soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior, according to the researchers.

However, the researchers did not adjust for all possible explanatory factors, such as diet, other family mental health history, and such. The researchers cannot rule out the possibility that a factor they did not examine or study — or a specific combination of factors — offer a better explanation for the behavior observed.

“We found that the child’s aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day,” said Suglia.

Although this study cannot identify the exact nature of the association between soft drink consumption and problem behaviors, limiting or eliminating soft drinks may reduce behavioral problems, the researchers concluded.

Source: The Journal of Pediatrics

Young girl drinking a soda photo by shutterstock.

Could Soft Drinks Fuel Aggression, Attention Problems in Kids?
APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Could Soft Drinks Fuel Aggression, Attention Problems in Kids?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.