Soda May Cause Violence In Teens, Study Says

Is Soda Making Your Teen Violent?

Refreshing? Yes. Healthy? Not so much. Soda is filled with caffeine, causes cavities -- and even diet soft drinks have been linked to weight gain.

But, a new study conducted by David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Sara J Solnick, Department of Economics, University of Vermont found another reason to keep your kids away from the stuff. The research concludes that teenagers who consume large amounts of soda are more likely to be violent -- a scary finding when you consider that 1 in 4 teens drink soda every day.

The participants were 1,878 kids between 14 and 18-years-old, from 22 schools in inner city Boston. Each was asked how many soda cans he or she had consumed in the previous week -- and also asked whether they drank alcohol or smoked, carried a weapon or acted violently, Fox News Latino reports.

Hemenway said that teens who drank more soft drinks were between nine and fifteen percent more likely to have violent tendencies.

But, not everyone thinks that soda turns kids into criminals. Critics argue that other important factors -- issues of class primarily -- associated with diet and violent tendencies might explain the findings. According to ABC News:

"Many studies have shown that people who consume diets high in junk food like soda and low in more nutritious foods are more likely to be poor. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite poverty as one of the major risk factors for youth violence."

The numbers in the study might uphold these complaints. Of the students who drank 14 or more cans, 43 percent carried a gun or a knife and 27 percent admitted they were violent towards a partner. However, among the students who consumed zero to one cans of a soda per week, 23 percent still carried a gun or a knife -- and 15 percent perpetrated violence toward a partner.

"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.

Researchers, who included "The Twinkie Defense" (referring to a case in 1979 when a lawyer argued that Dan White, who was tried for murder, had "diminished capacity" because of junk food) in the title of the paper, are not suggesting that their findings prove causation. Sara Solnick, co-author of the study, says their intentions were to understand factors that lead to violence and diet could be one.