Drinking soda can be a fun way to bring the kids into the world and to show off your coolness, but it can also be a way to put the other kids at risk for health problems.
In a new study, scientists from New York University and Columbia University discovered that when children drink soda during school, their brain chemistry can change.
“Children who drink soda are not necessarily less physically active and have lower blood pressure,” said Michael DeGrazia, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“But they are also more likely to have a history of substance abuse and to have ADHD and other psychiatric disorders.”
In the study, children ages 8 to 11 were given a set of 10 mini-doses of a sugar-sweetened beverage that contains about 1.4 ounces of sugar.
They were also given two other drinks with identical amounts of sugar and water, one containing 3.5 ounces of soda and the other containing 1.2 ounces of the same sugar.
Then, each child was asked to drink the two drinks together, and their brain metabolisms were measured.
After watching a video of a group of children playing with the same toys, DeGazia and his colleagues found that kids who drank soda were more likely than those who didn’t to have the same brain chemistry.
“The kids who were drinking soda had different metabolic profiles that weren’t as consistent across groups,” DeGacia said.
“The kids that were drinking sugar soda had lower blood sugar and higher levels of cortisol.”
When the researchers analyzed the kids’ brain chemistry in the lab, they found that when the kids drank soda together, the cortisol levels increased in the brain.
And when they drank the soda alone, cortisol levels dropped.
While the results aren’t entirely clear, the authors suggested that soda may be a gateway drug for kids to drinking too much sugar and other substances, such as alcohol and caffeine, and thus contribute to the obesity epidemic.
“It may be that soda drinking is a gateway, because the sugar in soda is so high, that it’s more of a gateway,” De Gacia told The Next Wealth.
“And the kids who are drinking soda may then have more exposure to these substances and also become more vulnerable to these adverse effects.
We don’t know.”
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