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Kids' soda consumption strongly linked to hyperactivity, mental problems

Monday, July 23, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: soft drinks, soda consumption, hyperactivity

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(NewsTarget) Teenagers who drink more soda have more mental health difficulties, including hyperactivity and mental distress, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers used questionnaires to survey 5,547 Norwegian 10th graders about their eating and soda-drinking habits, as well as hyperactivity and conduct problems in school, and mental health indicators such as anxiousness, dizziness, hopelessness, panic, sadness, sleeplessness, tension, unhappiness with themselves and a sense that everything is a burden.

They found that the teenagers who drank the most soda (an average of four or more glasses a day) scored highest on measures of behavioral difficulties, hyperactivity, mental distress and overall mental health problems.

Norway has the highest rate of carbonated soft drink consumption in the world, with an average of more than 30 gallons per person per year. Among the teenagers surveyed in the study, 45 percent of boys and 21 percent of girls drink one or more glasses of soda daily.

Because the study only looked at correlation, the exact reason for the link between soda intake and mental distress is not clear. The researchers pointed out that children with high soda consumption are more likely to skip meals and eat less nutrient-dense foods than children with lower consumption, thus making them more likely to develop nutritional deficiencies. Other potential culprits are sugar and caffeine.

Regardless of the cause of the correlation, it is still well-known that high soda consumption is unhealthy. Sugared sodas have been singled out as major culprits in childhood obesity and related health problems such as diabetes.

"These findings make a strong comment about the need to make soft drinks less available in schools, homes and events for kids," said lead researcher Lars Lien. "Together with all the other compelling evidence of detrimental effects of sugar, I think the evidence from this study strengthens the call to make changes as a society."

Nutritionist Mike Adams, author of The Five Soft Drink Monsters, a book that teaches people how to kick the soda habit, said, "It is very clear that diet strongly impacts mood, mental function and behavior. Drinking liquid sugars or artificial chemical sweeteners is much like poison to the human body, and it causes an imbalance in the functioning of the body and mind."

Adams added, "Most children diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering from severe nutritional imbalances that can be easily corrected through changes in diet."

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