"The Breakfast Club" is an iconic film about adolescent angst — and bad behavior. In the movie, a gaggle of high schoolers in detention vent their emotions while chugging down Coca-Colas. And in light of recent research, that makes perfect sense.
Researchers evaluated 5,147 kids at ages 11, 13, and 16 to determine their soft-drink habits along with aggressive behavior and depressive symptoms.
Their study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that more frequent consumption of sugared soft drinks is associated with more aggressive behavior — 11-year-olds who drink sugary soda and other beverages regularly are increasingly aggressive at age 13; if they drink more sugary soft drinks at 13 they're even more aggressive at 16.
The converse appears to be true as well. Teens who are more aggressive at 13 will be consuming more sugary beverages at age 16. (This study didn't find a correlation between sugar intake and an increased risk for depression, although other studies have.)
Sweetened soft drinks comprise 10%-15% of American adolescents' caloric intake and contribute to premature obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. And studies reveal that between the 1980s and the 2000s, there was a 70%-350% increase in emotional problems among adolescents.
To help protect your preteens and teens from premature physical and mental health problems, keep sugary soft drinks out of the house and talk with them about choosing safer beverages, such as club soda.
And if your adolescent is struggling with anger management, take a close look at what he or she is eating and drinking.