Dr Karena Burke says children and teens are consuming fizzy drinks a lot more frequently than in previous years.
Dr Karena Burke says children and teens are consuming fizzy drinks a lot more frequently than in previous years. Sharyn O'Neill

Drinks study result 'no surprise'

WHEN Donna Jones's two daughters were in their teens, they were rarely given soft drinks.

The Gracemere mum, whose daughters are now 23 and 24, said yesterday she was not surprised about the results of a new study that show fizzy beverages could be linked to aggressive behaviour in adolescents.

US scientists have used surveys of youths from Boston, Massachusetts, to suggest a link between high soft drink consumption and violence among teens.

Senior lecturer in psychology at CQUniversity's school of health and human services, Dr Karena Burke, responded to the survey by saying children and teens were consuming these drinks a lot more frequently than in previous years.

"I find this a particularly interesting paper that, as the authors rightly state, looks at an association that is rarely considered regarding teenage aggression," Dr Burke said.

"Those soft drinks with high caffeine and sugar levels including Coke, Pepsi and the energy drinks such as Red Bull are being consumed by kids even younger than teenagers, so it can be problematic with its increased prevalence."

The survey results found that adolescents who drank more than five cans of soft drinks a week (nearly 30% of the sample) were significantly more likely to have carried a weapon and to have been violent with peers, family members and girlfriends or boyfriends.

Frequent soft drink consumption was associated with a 9% to 15% point increase in the probability of engaging in aggressive actions, even after allowing for gender, age, race, body mass index, typical sleep patterns, tobacco use, alcohol use and having family dinners.

The study was conducted on 1900 Boston high school students.

Dr Burke said: "The large sample size gained for the study also adds weight to their findings.

"A big limitation, and one acknowledged by the authors, is the lack of information regarding the dietary habits of these students - it would have been very interesting to examine their overall dietary practices - particularly given the results of a recent Australian study (Oddy et al., 2009), which found that teenagers with a Western diet (higher consumption of food containing saturated fats and sugars) were much more likely to show indications of behavioural problems and symptoms that may have been indicative of a propensity for psychological disorder," she said.

Donna said when her two daughters were teenagers she rarely gave them soft drink.

"Because I was aware that it's not good to give it to kids, my kids would mostly just have water," she said yesterday.

"I've seen the effects of it in other kids, so I know it can't be good for them."


Some of the worst soft drinks include:

  • Coke - Sugar Content: 40.5gm; Caffeine Content: 35mg
  • Red Bull - Sugar Content: 27gm; Caffeine Content: 80mg
  • Pepsi Cola - Sugar Content: 40gm; Caffeine Content: 38mg