Everyone knows soda is full of sugar and sugar leads to weight gain. But causing your child to be extra “husky” is not the only way soft drinks are bad for your children. Sugary drinks are not part of the recommended diet for ADHD kids.
Please read on for seven reasons your kid’s soda pop habit is something that needs to be nipped in the bud immediately.
7 Reasons to Stop Giving Your Kids Soft Drinks
1. Soft drinks trigger hyperactivity and inattentiveness
In a recent study, researchers from the Yale School of Public Health analyzed data from 1,649 middle schoolers They found that the risk of hyperactivity and inattention increased by 14% for each sweetened beverage a child consumed daily.1
A 14% increase may not seem like much, but the researchers also found that a third of the students studied consumed at least two sugary drinks a day.
Sweetened and caffeinated beverages are even worse. The Yale scientists found that students who drank just one energy drink were 66% more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive.1
If your child is having trouble with ADHD, cutting out sweetened drinks is a good first step in managing her disorder.
2. Soft drinks can increase aggressiveness
A study from Harvard School of Public Health and Columbia University found that 5-year-olds who drank one soda a day were nearly twice as likely to behave aggressively.2 Those consuming four or more per day were nearly five times more likely to act aggressively.
And this link between soda and bad behavior was the case even when the researchers took into account other sources of sugar, like candies, sweets, and fruit.
3. Phosphorous-containing soft drinks are particularly bad
Many parents like to let their children drink milk to build strong bones. However, they might be sabotaging themselves if they also let their children drink soda pop.
Check any can of soda and you’ll see a long list of ingredients, but phosphoric acid—a form of the mineral phosphorous—is one of the worst. Depending on which soda exactly, one 12-ounce can contains 60 mg of phosphorous, which is a big dose.
If your child gets too much phosphorous, she’ll absorb fewer healthy minerals that a growing body needs. For example, phosphorous blocks the absorption of calcium, which is needed for healthy bones.
A less well-known vital mineral blocked by phosphorus is magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is common in children with ADHD, generating symptoms like sleep problems and anxiety.
In fact, one German pharmacist even pointed to a diet high in phosphoric acid as the main cause of her son’s ADHD. When she put him on a low phosphorous diet, his school performance, sense of well-being and behavior improved—so much so, that he no longer needed ADHD medication.3 This just shows the importance of a proper ADHD diet for kids.
4. Sugar in soft drinks is linked to asthma
Sugar, phosphoric acid, and the other ingredients in soda might also affect the respiratory tract. Yes, along with ADHD, asthma is another way soda and other sugary beverages can sabotage health.
One study showed that children aged 2 to 9 who drank a beverage sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup just about every day were five times more likely to develop asthma than children who hardly ever drank them.4
In another study, of 11-year-olds, those who drank the most sodas had almost double the risk of developing asthma.5 And in a study of high school students, those who drank two sodas daily had a 28% higher risk of asthma, while those who drank three or more had a 64% higher risk.6
The research clearly shows that a proper ADHD diet for kids is not only good for their brains, but for their lungs, too.
5. Soft drinks increase metabolic syndrome
Perhaps you have heard that having an “apple” or “pear” shaped body is a sign of bad health. Having these body shapes, along with other conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels is collectively called metabolic syndrome.
In a study of more than 2,700 adolescents aged 12 to 16, boys who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages were 10 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome.7 Another study shows that drinking two, 16-ounce sugar-sweetened beverages daily can trigger factors of the metabolic syndrome—in just six months.8
Sugary drinks lead to metabolic syndrome, and metabolic syndrome eventually leads to diabetes and heart disease. Your child simply deserves better.
6. Soft drink consumption has been linked to poor academic performance
In a study of more than 16,000 high school students, researchers found that those who drank at least one sugar-sweetened soda per day were twice as likely as non-soda drinkers to get mostly D/F grades.9
And it might not just be the sugar causing academic problems.
In a study of 475 college students, researchers found that those who consumed the most sodium benzoate—an additive found in sodas, juice drinks and tea/coffee drinks—were twice as likely to have symptoms of ADHD like inattention, restlessness and impulsivity.10
7. Soft drinks cause headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia
Of course, it comes as no surprise that caffeinated beverages can lead to loss of sleep. But soda can also cause some other physical ailments.
The same Yale study from earlier in the article links sugar-sweetened, caffeinated beverages like cola and energy drinks to a wide range of everyday (and every night) health problems in children: headaches, stomachaches, poor appetite, and sleeping problems.1
The results of this study “support recommendations to limit consumption of sweetened beverages and to avoid consumption of energy drinks among children,” wrote the study researchers in Academic Pediatrics, the journal of the Academic Pediatric Association.
I wholeheartedly agree with that recommendation.
Nothing good comes from drinking soda, only harm.
As you can see from the studies above, drinking soda can be detrimental to your child’s health. But the solution is simple.
Set out a proper ADHD diet for your kid.
I dedicated a significant portion of my popular ADHD book, Finally Focused, to discussing why consuming sugar—and sweetened beverages in particular—is bad for your child’s mental and physical health.
Yours in health,
James M. Greenblatt, MD
Founder, Medical Director, Psychiatry Redefined
A severe lack of magnesium in our modern diets may be hurting your ADHD child.
- Schwartz DL, et al. Energy drinks and youth self-reported hyperactivity/inattention symptoms. Academic Pediatrics, 2015 May-Jun;15(3):297-304.
- Suglia SF, et al. Soft drinks consumption is associated with behavior problems in 5-year-olds. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2013 Nov;163(5):1323-8.
- Hafer H. The hidden drug – dietary phosphate: Cause of behavioral problems, learning difficulties and juvenile delinquency. Armadale, WA: PHOSADD Australia, 2001.
- DeChristopher LR, et al. Intakes of apple juice, fruit drinks and soda are associated with prevalent asthma in US children aged 2-9 years. Public Health Nutrition, 2016 Jan;19(1):123-30.
- Berentzen NE, et al. Associations of sugar-containing beverages with asthma prevalence in 11-year-old children: the PIAMA birth cohort. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 2015 Mar;69(3):303-8.
- Park S, et al. Regular-soda intake independent of weight status is associated with asthma among US high school students. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 2013 Jan;113(1):106-11.
- Chan TF, et al. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with components of the metabolic syndrome in adolescents. Nutrients, 2014 May 23;6(5):2088-103.
- Bray GA & Popkin BM. Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes?: health be damned! Pour on the sugar. Diabetes Care, 2014 Apr;37(4):950-6.
- Park S, et al. Self-reported academic grades and other correlates of sugar-sweetened soda intake among US adolescents. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 2012 Jan;112(1):125-31.
- Beezhold BL, et al. Sodium benzoate-rich beverage consumption is associated with increased reporting of ADHD symptoms in college students: a pilot investigation. Journal Of Attention Disorders, 2014 Apr;18(3):236-41.