Soft drink consumption linked to negative behaviour in kids

A study published online in August in the Journal of Pediatrics has reported that consumption of even 1 soft drink per day may be associated with increased negative behaviour in young children. The US study of almost 3000 5-year-olds showed that those who drank 1 to 4 servings of soft drink per day had significantly higher aggressive measurement scores than their peers who drank no soft drink.

In addition, those who consumed 2 or more servings had higher withdrawn behaviour scores, and those who consumed 4 or more servings had higher attention problem scores.

"We were seeing a dose-response effect. So with every increase in soft drink consumption, the association and the scores basically increased," lead author Shakira Suglia, ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

"This held up even after we adjusted for candy or fruit juice consumption and for a variety of social factors, especially for aggression with the highest level of soft drink consumption," she added.

Although the investigators suggest that "future studies should explore potential mechanisms" that might explain these associations, Dr. Suglia noted that past research has shown that even 1 soft drink per day is too many for young children.

"Certainly water or milk is more nutritious and a better alternative. Our advice is consistent with what is already out there: for the very young kids, any soft drink is not a healthy option. And even for adolescents, I think parents should really limit the amount of soft drink their kids are drinking."