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    Soda Makes Five-Year-Olds Break Your Stuff, Science Finds

    Written by

    Daniel Stuckey


    When the US military tested PCP on volunteers in 1984, "some subjects became irritable, argumentative or negative under the conditions of social stress and demanding tasks." Now, a study published by researchers at Columbia, Harvard and the University of Vermont have found not-so-different results in children that do too much Dew.

    Shakira F. Suglia and co-authors surveyed 2,929 mothers of five-year-olds and found that 43 percent consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day. About four percent of those children (or 110 of them), drank more than four soft drinks per day, and became "more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights, and physically attack people." 

    In the past, soda and its various strains have been related to depression, irritability, aggression, suicidal thoughts, and delusions of sweepstake-winning grandeur. Of course, this study didn't find out what types of soda the children had consumed.  

    "We have no information on what type of soft drinks were consumed, particularly whether they were regular or diet, sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened, cola or noncola, and caffeinated or noncaffeinated," the authors wrote. So the study can hardly help in determining if Dad's root beer (sans caffeine) is better for your kid than Barq's with a bite. 

    You might think that the following circumstances:

    • The child’s sex
    • Maternal race, education, and marital status
    • Receipt of public assistance
    • Fruit juice consumption
    • Candy/sweets consumption
    • TV watching
    • Probable maternal depression 
    • Maternal reported intimate partner violence (IPV)
    • Paternal incarceration

    ... could have a hinge on a child under the influence of soda.

    Yet even after factoring in these sociodemographics (in which access to Diet Pepsi versus a ginger ale, or Hawaiian Punch could vary), the research still concluded that soft drink consumption can be independently "associated with increased aggressive behavior," in youngsters. As this is the type of research merely verifiies what already seems a truism in the American cultural landscape, nevertheless, it's important work. As the paper explains, "future studies should explore potential mechanisms that could explain this association."

    Only from here can science move forward and ask about what brands of soda the kids are consuming and what each type contains. The research can depart from its original questions about partner violence such as, 

    • "How often does he slap or kick you?"
    • "How often does he hit you with a fist or object that could hurt you?”
    • “How often does he try to make you have sex or do sexual things you don’t want to?”
    • “Were you ever cut or bruised or seriously hurt in a fight with the baby’s father or current partner?”

    and move on to the nitty gritty with questions like, "Does your child know the Sign of Good Taste?" (Coca Cola 1957)