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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Does drinking soda really cause kids to be more violent?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Does drinking soda really cause kids to be more violent?

Soda-drinking teens found more violent

Teenagers who drink soda are more likely to carry a weapon and act violently, according to new research.

Sara J. Solnick of the University of Vermont and David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston analyzed data collected from 1,878 14- to 18-year-olds in grades nine through 12 in 22 public schools in 2008.

Those who drank five or more cans of non-diet soft drinks every week were significantly more likely to have also consumed alcohol and smoked cigarettes at least once in the previous month, the researchers found.

Moreover, even after taking other factors into consideration such as age, gender and alcohol consumption, the researchers found that heavy use of carbonated non-diet soft drinks was significantly associated with carrying a gun or knife and violence towards peers, family and partners.

About 23 percent of those who drank one or no cans of soda a week carried a gun or knife, and 15 percent had perpetrated violence toward a partner. In comparison, among those who consumed 14 or more cans a week, 43 percent carried a gun or knife and 27 percent had been violent toward a partner, the researchers found. Similarly, violence towards peers rose from 35 percent to 58 percent while violence towards siblings rose from 25.4 percent to 43 percent.

That was the entirety of what the Boston Globe printed of a story first reported by the Washington Post.

The clear implication, and what the Globe, with it’s nanny-state-loving agenda wants folks to believe, is that drinking a lot of sugary soda causes kids to be violent, carry weapons, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, etc. But an association between two things, even a statistically strong one, does not prove or even imply cause and effect.

For example, an equally valid, perhaps more valid conclusion would be that kids predisposed to risky behavior are more likely to carry weapons, consume alcohol and drugs , smoke, behave violently, and drink a lot of soda.

The researchers made this clear as Globe readers would have learned if the newspaper had not chosen to leave out the final two paragraphs of the Post article. (I bolded text for emphasis)

“There was a significant and strong association between soft drinks and violence. There may be a direct cause-and-effect relationship, perhaps due to the sugar or caffeine content of soft drinks, or there may be other factors, unaccounted for in our analyses, that cause both high soft drink consumption and aggression,” the researchers wrote in the journal Injury Prevention in a paper titled: “The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students.”

The Twinkie Defense refers to Dan White, who was tried for the 1979 assassinations of San Francisco city district Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. White’s lawyers argued he had “diminished capacity” in part because he was depressed and had recently changed from a health-conscience diet to eating junk food such as Twinkies.

The agenda-driven intellectual dishonesty exhibited by the Globe is all too common today in all media. It’s one of, if not the primary reason newspapers and other traditional media have become ever-more irrelevant as their downhill slide toward oblivion continues apace.

Anecdotal though this may be, when I was young, I and most of my friends and relatives consumed lots of sugary drinks. To my knowledge, the only violence any of us ever engaged in were massive snowball fights in winter. Of course, back then, we didn’t sit on our butts all day playing video games. We were outside burning off all those sugar calories and more. And maybe that made all the difference. Maybe we just kept ourselves too busy having fun to think about gangs and guns and hurting other people.

What’s your take on all this?

Did you drink lots of soda as a kid? Did it drive you to packing heat and hurting your boyfriend or girlfriend?

And isn’t is sad that so many people will read the item in the Globe, and probably other newspapers, websites, and blogs, and never realize how they are being misled.

11 Responses to “Does drinking soda really cause kids to be more violent?”

  1. woody Says:

    Someone should tell the Boston Globe that correlation is not the same as causation.

    Any “scientific” study you read about in a newspaper can be assumed to be rubbish. I have made a study of newspapers during my life. I have found that newspaper stories about occurrences that I have personal onsite knowledge of are incorrect or incomplete 100% of the time. Therefore I have concluded that newspaper stories are never correct or complete. How’s that for scientific?

  2. lisa Says:

    I read this article and was amazed by it’s stupidity. There is no direct link between the actual soda and the behavior… but factor in the fact that parents who care so little about nutrition as to allow a child to drink 6 sodas a day are not likely to care so much about poor attitude, appropriate attire, respect… holy crap! We can’t have a study that suggests that poor parenting spits out poor behavior.. that would be offensive to someone.

  3. Glo D Says:

    I’m not sure if it is the sugar and chemicals in the soda or poor parenting stills causing the behaviors discussed but I know from experience high concentrations of sugar can cause hyperactive behavior in some children.

  4. Leonard Barnes Says:

    Media slant is and most likely always has been, and will continue to be biased to whatever it is that particular form of gossip wants to make it’s readers, watchers and listeners think is the truth. I am almost afraid to believe even what I see with my own eyes. Being wrong is to be human, printing or spouting what you know to be “slanted” is not being truthful. The worst kind of prevarication is that of “omission” and unfortunately that is all too often the most abused form of lies we see from all media. Listen, read or watch all forms and try to investigate the whole story then try to make up your own mind out of all the crap we get, and chances are you still won’t have all of the truth!

  5. Richard Says:

    IMHO, the violence, et al is not the problem, but symptoms of the real problems: poor parenting due to the dumbing down of the populace and the general breakdown of society. OOPS, started to go down the conspiracy highway there for a sec…

  6. Brian Says:

    People who drink lots of soda probably also consume lots of other manufactured “food” loaded with petroleum derived artificial additives. Those toxic additives that the FDA swears are safe are the primary cause of ADHD and, in my case, were making me mean. A proper Paleo diet composed of whole foods (mostly) has made a world of difference.

    Interesting how those artificials are legal but they’ll throw farmers in jail for selling raw milk?

    Ditto what Richard wrote.

  7. George Says:

    sic hoc ergo propter hoc. The more things change . . .

  8. Melissa Says:

    Oooooo… Perhaps we need to write our congressmen and tell them that we need to outlaw non-diet soda.

    Good grief. What is this world coming to?!?

  9. Britni Says:

    “For example, an equally valid, perhaps more valid conclusion would be that kids predisposed to risky behavior are more likely to carry weapons, consume alcohol and drugs , smoke, behave violently, and drink a lot of soda.”

    I was thinking this as soon as I started reading. Correlation does not equal causation.

  10. Dandy Says:

    I was taught in school in the 40’s and 50’s that sugar was good for you, it gave you energy! I drank lots of sugar drinks plus lots of raw milk from our cows. Ate a lot of candy, but most of our food came from our own garden. I have always liked and ate a lot of raw fresh garden products. I had a lot of trouble with cavities and got false teeth at 22. I also ran around all nite many nite’s (raccoon hunting). So go figure. I’m 69…

  11. Heather Says:

    I would say Brian and Richard about have the right of things. Also, the “sugar” in mass-market sodas these days is not likely to actually BE sugar. It’s high fructose corn syrup, made from GMO corn. Contrary to the industry propaganda you may have seen on TV, it is not exactly the same as cane sugar, and your body does not process it quite the same way. In fact, it is processed more like alcohol is processed. I would say kids that have educated, attentive, parents are less likely to be violent–and they are less likely to be ingesting much soda or garbage masquerading as food.



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