Harvard researchers looking into causal relationships associated with teen violence have found what they call a shocking link: teens who drink more sugary soft drinks are more likely to be associated with violent activity.
The study focused on high school students in inner-city Boston. Researchers found that teens who consumed more than five non-diet sodas per week were between 9 and 15 percent more likely to behave in a violent manner than their peers who drank less.
The researchers make clear they have identified nothing in the carbonated beverages that could cause people to become aggressive. It's simply a statistical association, they say.
The study was based on teens' answers to a questionnaire. More than 1,800 students between the ages of 14 and 18 provided answers. Most of those filling out the questionnaire were Hispanic or African-American, with Asian and whites much less represented. All were from inner-city neighborhoods, where crime rates tend to be higher than in wealthy suburbs.
One of the questions involved how many non-diet carbonated beverages the teens consumed in an average week. Another question asked whether they regular carried a weapon of some type. Another asked whether they had been involved in violent acts, either with a friend, family member or date.
Lining up the answers
When the answers were overlaid, it shows that of teens who drank one or no cans of soft drinks per week, 23 percent carried a weapon and 35 percent had been violent toward a peer. Among those who consumed 14 or more can per week, 43 percent carried a weapon and 58 percent had been violent toward a peer.
Previous studies have also found a statistical correlation between violence and tobacco use and alcohol consumption. The researchers say they don't know why that is, but says it's an area that deserves more study.