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Findings About Soft Drinks and Aggression in Children

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

A new study has found evidence of aggressive behavior in children who drink four or more servings of soft drinks every day. Information for the study came from the mothers of three thousand five-year-olds. Researchers asked the women to keep a record of how many servings of soft drinks their children drank over a two-month period. The women also were asked to complete a checklist of their children's behavior.

The researchers found that 43 percent of the boys and girls drank at least one daily serving of soda. Four percent of the youngsters had four or more sodas to drink every day. Shakira Suglia is with Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. She worked on the study with researchers from the University of Vermont and Harvard University School of Public Health. She says they found that children who drank the most soda were more than two times as likely as those who drank no soda to show signs of aggression. The aggressive behaviors included destroying possessions belonging to others, taking part in fights and physically attacking people.

Dr. Suglia says the researchers identified the link after they considered socio-demographic factors like the child's age and sex. They also considered other possible influences, such as whether the boys and girls were eating sweets or given fruit drinks on a normal day. In addition, the researchers examined parenting styles and social conditions at home. Dr. Suglia says it is not clear why young children who drink a lot of soda have behavior problems. But she says the ingredient caffeine could cause children to be more aggressive.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.

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