Study: Teen violence linked with drinking lots of soda

Researchers have found a statistical association between violence by teenagers and how many sodas they drink in a week.

The study found that inner-city Boston high school student who drank more than five cans of non-diet, soft drinks every week were between nine and 15-percent likelier to engage in an aggressive act compared with counterparts who drank less.

From Yahoo News:

“What we found was that there was a strong relationship between how many soft drinks that these inner-city kids consumed and how violent they were, not only in violence against peers but also violence in dating relationships, against siblings,” said David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.”

Hemenway stressed that they would need further studies to prove or disprove that higher consumption of sweet sodas caused violent behaviour.

From Yahoo News:

“The new study was based on answers to questionnaires filled out by 1,878 public-school students aged 14 to 18 in the inner Boston area, where Hemenway said crime rates were much higher than in the wealthier suburbs. The overwhelming majority of respondents were Hispanic, African-American or mixed; few were Asian or white.”

“What emerged, said Hemenway, was evidence of “dose response,” in other words, the more soda was consumed, the likelier the tendency towards violence.”

But here is the important paragraph:

” ‘We don’t know why (there is this strong association). There may be some causal effect but it’s also certainly plausible that this is just a marker for other problems — that kids who are violent for whatever reason, they tend to smoke more, they tend to drink more alcohol and they tend to maybe drink more soft drinks. We just don’t know.’ ”

So what do you think? Do you think soda is causing the violence or do those kids just happen to drink a lot of soda? What do you make of this study?

37 comments Add your comment


October 25th, 2011
1:32 am

“Correlation does not imply causation”


October 25th, 2011
6:58 am

could it be that there is just in general more violence in inner cities?


October 25th, 2011
7:03 am

Teen violence is linked with their watching too much violent TV. Violence is romanticized in movies and TV and teens act out to impress peers. Their impressionable minds are exposed to constant pandering by the entertainment industry.


October 25th, 2011
7:06 am

Sounds like a hit piece against soft drinks.


October 25th, 2011
7:09 am

If it’s true, start feeding your boys more soda. Only the strong survive. Violence works.


October 25th, 2011
7:18 am

Wow! how far are we willing to go to blame something or someone else for the bad behavior of an individual. This is one of the most asinine of a history of such ideas trying to blame away what is merely a normal, albeit, distasteful behavior found in human population throughout history


October 25th, 2011
7:23 am

Caffeine is an addictive drug; it’s a stimulant at lower doses & a depressant at larger doses. The fact that so many don’t understand caffeine is a potentially dangerous drug is perverse. Withdrawal from the drug hurts (nauseau, anxiety, headache) & overdose kills people with some regularity. I find it hard to believe that caffeine for children is a good idea; drugs have their just place, they shouldn’t be outlawed, but they should be treated with responsibility… clearly, kids on uppers are more prone to acting like they’re on uppers. The link mentioned in the piece probably relates to education too: those who give their kids soft drinks probably have less education than those who go for healthier (better) drinks & the link between a lack of education & violence is clear. Both factors contribute; the drug & the correlation between soda & education.


October 25th, 2011
7:45 am

Oh sure….blame the grape drink.


October 25th, 2011
7:46 am

Wow people will believe anything these days. I drank way too much soda as a teen and I wasn’t violent. I think it has more to do with how a child is raised and disciplined. Yes, there will always be kids that are bad regardless of how they are raised.

I don’t think children should have soda except on rare occasions. I rarely let my son have soda and if I do it’s usually ginger ale or root beer, something without caffeine, and then only a small amount.

(insert name here)

October 25th, 2011
8:00 am

Soda has nothing to do with the amount of violence an individual might have. The kids that were tested live in inner-city Boston, a hardcore place. Is it possible they’re violent because they know that’s the only way they can survive in a place like that?


October 25th, 2011
8:13 am

You know what else these kids were doing besides drinking soda? Breathing air, walking upright and listening to music. Let’s ban all these things as they clearly cause our children to misbehave. In no way does parenting or personal responsibility enter into this…it has to be Junior’s Mountain Dew causing him to go berserk.

Stupid blog is stupid.


October 25th, 2011
8:16 am

Let’s start a protest for those Moms who put Coke in their CHILD’S baby bottle :>/…yes, they are out there! Anyone?


October 25th, 2011
8:20 am

I’m sure that study could replace “soda” with “hours of video games,” “hours of tv,” “time spent doing drugs and/or running with gangs” or “amount of time that should be spent with parents, but the parents aren’t there” and get the same answers.


October 25th, 2011
8:23 am


One of my favorite quotes (can’t remember from where though):

“Show me a kid running around barefoot drinking coke from a sippy cup at the flea market, and I’ll show you a future NASCAR fan!”


October 25th, 2011
8:31 am

Seriously???? We’ve been drinking sodas for YEARS and it’s NEVER made anyone I know violent. This is just ridiculious!!!!

Sad thing is, some people will buy into it….


October 25th, 2011
8:34 am

My sister in law put sweet tea in her baby’s sippy cup. I don’t know which is worse, soda or sweet tea in a sippy cup….I think that’s way too young to have that much sugar in one drink. Of course, I don’t drink sodas, so I never gave them to my child when she was a baby. She got milk, or water, occasionally juice in her sippy, and now as a 20 year old, will chose a glass of water over a soda any day….I just wish she would quit drinking sweet tea….

Is there a study about violent babies drinking sodas?????


October 25th, 2011
8:36 am

Has anyone studied the correlation between teen violence and watching “Glee”?

Just like...

October 25th, 2011
8:48 am

…eating at Mickey D’s (or BK, or TB or Wen, etc) makes everyone fat…


October 25th, 2011
8:49 am

A lot of other bad things can be linked to drinking lots of soda. Like being overweight.

The best way to prevent aggressive behavior is to give your child a stable, secure home life with firm, loving discipline and full-time supervision during the toddler and preschool years.


October 25th, 2011
8:52 am

What about the link between violence and playing rated MA first-person shooter video games? I think we have bigger problems than soda, although I personally can’t stand soda and do not serve it to my child.


October 25th, 2011
9:00 am

Feed them spring water and don’t provide suitable parental guidance, with respect of boundaries = SAME RESULTS

This is yet another flawed study, because the parental environment is not taken into account or lied about. “not my kid…he is such a sweet boy. he would never punch someone out.”


October 25th, 2011
9:09 am

I thought colas in general were harmful to growing bodies (e.g. through mid-teens) since they make bones porous/leach calcium? Regardless, everyone’s right – stupid study. Sounds like some researcher with an agenda.

@MJG – I’ll always remember the time I was in an elevator with a woman holding an infant with Coke in a bottle. That baby was going to town on that bottle. I almost fell out in the floor…

@JJ – LOL – violent babies! Like the dancing baby, but meaner. Too funny.

I Love Life Cereal

October 25th, 2011
9:11 am

What about the link between violence and playing rated MA first-person shooter video games?

That’s bogus and you know it.


October 25th, 2011
10:10 am

Toby is correct in what caffeine can do, however, everything in moderation. You can abuse just about anything, including food. I would say there are a number of factors that go into making teens violent who live in the inner city, and soda plays and extremely small part of that if any. I also think they should look at the parent involvement there, because there is a lot to be said about a parent who keeps soda around in droves not to mention giving it to a kid under the age of five.

As for the babies and soda in bottles and sippy cups… my step-father used to give my little sister soda starting at six months. She is now 20 and drinks at least six sodas a day and literally goes through withdrawals if she doesn’t have one (during high school she could drink an entire 12 pack in a day!!!!). The closest thing to soda my kids ever get is Sprite or Fresca and they couldn’t even touch those until they were five. I gave them milk, water, and 50/50 water juice.


October 25th, 2011
10:45 am

Kids in the South don’t drink SODAS.

Seriously, perhaps there is a correlation between bad upbringing and drinking a lot of soft drinks. Ya think?


October 25th, 2011
11:21 am

I laugh everytime someone says video games make people violent. Oh please! I’m not violent at all and I’ve played video games ever since the Atari 2600 came out! I still play video games or computer games. Quit trying to place blame and take some responsibility for your actions!

Hey, catlady, it will be interesting...

October 25th, 2011
11:36 am

…to see how many people comment on your SODAS in the South comment – I know what you mean, as I am from the South, too…


October 25th, 2011
12:21 pm

Yeah… I am from the south too and it took me well into my adult years to properly call it soda versus Coke.


October 25th, 2011
12:44 pm

There could be many explanations (see this link for some) .

However, sugar and caffeine do have neurochemical effects, some of which could theoretically cause violence. One of these “more studies are needed” articles, but not implausible.


October 25th, 2011
1:04 pm

Like Figment said, I pretty much had a “Coke” in my hands all of the time growing up, I am nt violent..Well, maybe toward some

@catlady..Too funny..I am almost 50 and I still say Coke..


October 25th, 2011
1:52 pm

You quote a study that claims a 9% correlation (with a variance of probably +/- 5%)? Wow, now that’s journalism! I can hear your “students” rolling their eyes from here. Oh, and you used likelier instead of more likely, classic!!!

Miss Priss!

October 25th, 2011
3:52 pm

Miss Priss thinks adults drink a lot of sodas, too … and beer and wine and whiskey and a number of adult folks also smoke crack and meth and abuse powerful prescription drugs and maybe even worship Satan?

Anyhow, when we start blaming things other than the individual, young or adult, responsible for the deed … well, we’re all freaks and wimps and losers and “victims,” too, and deserve each other’s destruction.

I’m going to go vomit now.


October 25th, 2011
3:57 pm

Well, I guess those northerners could be in trouble if they drank a lot of POP. I am not from the south ut have lived her for over 20 years.

Anyone here ( GA) having MADE RIGHTS for dinner? Maybe our friends in Iowa. ( no fair cheating and looking it up). That was a new one for me! Last week, someone told me they call the glove box, the JOEY box…I love it when I learn new things!

JJ…there are two beverages I am addicted to: COFFEE AND SWEET TEA….I could give up chocolate before either of those two previous items!


October 25th, 2011
3:58 pm

oops…but have lived here….sorry!


October 25th, 2011
7:42 pm

I’ve never heard true Southerners call it “pop,” but there might be enclaves where it happens. There are also places where it is called “sody pop.” My grandmother (Illinois) called it a “dope.” I guess that was from back when cocaine was actually in there. I’ve always called my soft drink a “coke” even though it is Pepsi!

One thing I talk to my kids at school about is the way the same item has a different name in different parts of the country (ie, sofa, couch, davenport). Or spigot, faucet, tap. Then there is y’all, you-uns (East Tennessee) and use-guys (New York?)

When I moved “up North” to Alabama I learned about a “poke” which I always thought was a type of mild aggression, rather than a sack or bag. Then, I heard the term “croaker sack.”

And let us not forget the “ink pen.”


October 25th, 2011
9:13 pm


then there is trash, garbage and rubbish

or cart/buggy…purse/ pocketbook/handbag

I share these terms often in my presentations…it relates to language acquisition.

I love different ways to say things! Once, an inner city teacher was telling me that she had told her class you need a hoe for a garden. The kid’s eyes got wide as they were not thinking a HO belonged in a garden at all.


October 26th, 2011
12:34 pm

I had an old timer tell me this on my first job at a “fillin” station.

“Hey boy, you ain’t doing nuthin but swattin flies…reach in that drink box and hand me a Nehi water… and ifn you don’t want me to warm up yore hide, you’ll be quick about it.”