"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

A Soft Drink a day Keeps Good Behaviour Away

Lisa Cutforth - Saturday, August 24, 2013

I was reading the paper this morning and was astonished to read that HALF of all Australian children drink one can of soft drink a day and 13 per cent drink three cans or more (as published in the Journal of Pediatrics).  I was devastated to learn that parents are giving babies soft drinks in their sippy cups and bottles (as reported in the Medical Association). 

The mistake I often make as a practitioner is the assumption that common sense is common and that people have been exposed to the education and facts that I have that prevent me making those decisions and mistakes.

I did my dissertation at university on ADD/ADHD and treatment about 10 years ago, so know too well the relationship between poor diet and behaviour problems, not just in children, but adults too.

The headline of the article I was reading was "Soft drinks make kids crazy" (The Courier Mail Saturday 24 August).  In fact I wouldn't even have read it except that I was so surprised that this was "news".  I thought this was OLD NEWS and by now EVERY ONE KNEW that soft drinks make kids crazy.  Apparently many still don't realise the disastrous effects soft drinks are having on children. 

For those that don't yet know, and that is what this article was highlighting was a study by the University of Columbia on 3000 five year olds, that children who had a can of soft drink a day had more behavioural problems than those who drank none. 

"All five year olds have "behavioural problems", it has nothing to do with soft drink, my kid is just hyperactive." I have heard parents explain. But the reality is a sugar hit accompanied with a caffeine hit to a young developing brain can have the similar effect to a drug.  It can make kids excitable, jittery, distracted, giddy, dizzy and agitated.. and at an age they are not able to explain what has hit them, they just act it out.  A parent looking on says, "What's got into you, stop being so naughty, calm down."  But they have been over stimulated chemically and physiological and like someone under the influence of alcohol or a drug, you can't just "switch that effect off" and "behave properly". 

The other down side of soft drink is the sugar hit (and caffeine hit) triggers the stress response commonly referred to as "fight or flight response" (which activates hormones that give the body a kick of adrenalin) which typically will "get us going" or "makes us withdrawn".  This fight or flight response in children could be played out as aggression or depression.  Certainly a daily hit of this is not good for a body especially not a little one on a regular basis. Unfortunately "sugar" is not just "sugar" when it's consumed in those quantities in that fizzy, caffeinated delivery system.  Caffeine will accelerate a sugar hit to the brain.

The article notes the Australian Dental Associations Dr Peter Aldritt's coment: "I think people would be shocked if they realised that the average soft drink has 16 packets of sugar in it."

Just in case you didn't know: Soft drinks are also often full of artificial ingredients which effectively are toxins the liver has to then deal with, and the sugar and acidity of sugary fizzy drinks erode tooth enamel and contribute to tooth decay.  Those are some of the LONG KNOWN effects. 

Certainly something we don't want our children to get a "taste" for or develop addictions to this early in their little lives.  Let them seek out soft drinks if they must when they are adults and are practicing free will, but certainly don't allow or ignorantly facilitate daily consumption of soft drinks. 

Better alternatives for children (0-10)?

Breast milk or formula, water, Freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices (diluted with water and not before 6 months), sparkling mineral water, caffeine free herbal teas like fruit teas or Jasmine tea or Rooibos tea (for over 2s and never from a bottle and away from meals).


Recent Posts


are grains healthy 7 steps to detox childrens lunch boxes corporate wellness Dr Randy Pausch on Oprah ask my doctor real food go for 2 and 5 reducing coffee success and you great second hand books low cholesterol dancing healthy cooking parties 10 % principle what is a good breakfast control dangers of multitasking while you eat how to say no taking a break healthy cooking party gift weightloss comfort eating healthy shopping list benefits of sleeping sugar and adhd food intolerances soft drink and behaviour problems which is better for you butter or margarine obesity dance weight loss Sensational time management and healthy living celebrate life sugar and add ability to respond leaky gut, gut health, symptoms of leaky gut organic vegetables making time to relax skipping meals Lisa's Diary quick eating solutions ways to improve prostate health fresh start is chocolate bad for me nutritionists diet diary nutritionist is sugar bad new year's resolutions comfort pig how to love exercise nutritious cooking happiness workshop herbal toothpaste benefits to keeping a diet diary energy mood feels good make stress work for you love food strength high cholesterol quizz Cancer health with 10 % effort have fun in the kitchen heart foundation tick explained healthy wine, healthy beer, healthy alcohol options allergies fruit diet diary Add new tag immune boosting tips life avoiding a choice heart disease homocysteine life lessons healthy shopping Nutritional Therapist cooking with allergies cheap fruit and vegetables, what's in season in autumn in australia breakfast the tummy beast assertiveness how to be happy how to avoid injury during exercise prostate cancer healthy cooking demonstration wrong type of exercise, exercise and results natural alternatives to drugs soft drink and behavior problems to know and not do is not yet to know life choices sexy salad improve your memory what is movember relax addicted to chocolate reasons to eat foods in season focus fruit and vegetable shortage recipe seasonal quick and tasty recipes Egg allergy relationship with food increasing energy sustainable living, rural development, organic gardening, rampumps, biogas pop-eye and spinach Happiness libido the power to choose getting fit are frozen veggies any good delicious how to get more of exercise I've Got Life muffins detox love, loneliness drugfree alternatives fun breast cancer awareness video hot guys cooking class in brisbane healthy fast food, healthy take away image muscle wasting health for busy people quick recipes should I eat organic veggies foods in season, seasonal recipes music cholesterol lowering diet alzheimers 7 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol and Protect Your Heart health how to check your breasts hunger and stress empty your mind recipes for allergies food sensitivities taking responsibility Alan Pease fun breast cancer awareness diet diary of a nutritionist mobile phones and brain cancer, Dr Teo anxiety gluten intolerance low calorie diet nutritionist in brisbane calorie controlled diet weight nutritious Nina Simone comfort foods sensitivity to milk sexy salads I don't get hungry soccer, role of team sports in longevity, role of exercise and community in longevity fatigue natural toothpaste brain health support your body have more energy simple 7 day detox plan overindulge memory how to avoid doing the right thing and getting the wrong results best exercise lunch low calorie meal plan what is healthy food salad christmas stress, keys to managing stress, benefits of stress fresh happiness course indigestion health one step at a time skip meals immune system Laughter and stress nutrition blood pressure recipies maintain a healthy weight, underweight benefits of strength training, why you should strength train four questions you must ask your doctor before taking medication food allergies trans fats Lactose intolerance motivation keep focused breast cancer prevention health pioneers do i have to drink milk; where do i get calcium from; non dairy calcium sources fussy eaters performance