Violence from sugary soft drinks?

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Study: Increased acts of violence with high soft drink consumption

Young people who consume a lot of sugary soft drinks are more likely to commit violence than their peers. In a comprehensive study, US scientists examined the relationship between soft drink consumption and the propensity of young people to use violence. The result was equally clear and surprising: adolescents who drank more than five cans of sugary soft drinks a week were up to 15 percent more likely to be involved in violent clashes than their peers who consumed fewer soft drinks.

Carbonated and sugary soft drinks as a cause of violence? The researchers led by Professor David Hemenway from the Harvard University health faculty surveyed 1,878 pupils in state schools between the ages of 14 and 18 in order to investigate possible connections between soft drink consumption and the propensity of young people to use violence . All study participants came from downtown Boston, which is known for its crime rate, which is significantly higher than that of the suburbs. The majority of the study participants were, according to the US researchers, of Latin American or African American descent, the minority were Asians or whites. The scientists asked the young people about their consumption of carbonated and sugar-based soft drinks, which are not offered as a diet drink. In addition, the study also recorded whether the adolescents consumed alcohol or tobacco, carried a weapon and had become violent in the past. The family background of the teenagers was also taken into account.

Tight link between soft drink consumption and the propensity to violence The propensity for violence among adolescents, who consumed more than five cans of carbonated and sugary soft drinks a week, was between 9 and 15 percent higher than that of their peers, according to the US researchers Soft drinks were consumed. Study leader David Hemenway emphasized that the current study confirms a “close connection” between soft drink consumption and youth violence. The increased propensity to violence exists "not only against their peers, but also towards relationship partners and siblings," the US scientist told the AFP news agency. According to David Hemenway, it was “frightening” to see “how clear the connection” between soft drink consumption and the willingness to use violence is. So far, however, the researchers have not been able to explain whether the consumption of soft drinks containing sugar is actually the cause or possibly just an indication of violent behavior. For this reason, further studies are needed to analyze how the connection between soft drink consumption and violence is established.

Ready for violence through soft drinks? The comparison between the study participants who consumed no or only one can of soft drink per week and the subjects who drank 14 or more cans of soft drink was shocking, according to the US scientists. 23 percent of adolescents who rarely or never consume soft drinks stated that they regularly carried a pistol or knife with them, 15 percent of them confirmed violent behavior towards their partners and 35 percent admitted that they had already used violence against their peers . For those who already have concerns about the social behavior of young people with this number, the statements of young soft drink consumers are hard to believe. A total of 43 percent of young people who drank 14 cans of soft drink per week regularly declared that they were carrying a weapon, 27 percent of them had already used violence against their partners and well over half (58 percent) were already violent towards their peers. On average, the willingness to resort to violence with increased consumption of sugary soft drinks increased by nine to 15 percent, the US scientists explained. According to David Hemenway, the current results confirm the findings of previous studies that have already found a link between increased sugar consumption and difficulties in social behavior. Similar connections to the propensity to violence in relation to alcohol and tobacco use have also been demonstrated.

So far no causal relationship has been confirmed. However, there can be doubt as to whether there is actually a causal relationship between the consumption of sugary soft drinks and the willingness to use violence. Correlations can certainly be demonstrated statistically, but this does not necessarily have to indicate the soft drink consumption as the cause of the willingness to use violence. For example, in families with a poorer social environment, unhealthy diets with an increased consumption of soft drinks could be the order of the day, and at the same time the poor environment could have an impact on the willingness of young people to use violence. Here, both the increased consumption of soft drinks and the willingness to use violence would only be a result of the personal environment. (fp)

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