Young heavy soda drinkers more violent

11/07/2012 10:00 PM


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IS IT THE SUGAR IN NON-DIET SODA that makes young drinkers much more prone to violent behavior than other teens?

A SHOCKING ARTICLE IN THE CURRENT HARVARD MAGAZINE reports that new research, on 1,878 students at Boston public high schools, revealed that heavy soda drinkers, 57 percent, versus 39 percent who drank less soda, behaved violently toward peers, behaved violently toward another family member, carried a knife or gun, or behaved violently in a dating relationship.

BY HEAVY CONSUMERS, David Hemenway, who directs the Harvard Injury Control Research Center at Harvard School of Public Health, says that students who had drunk five or more cans of non-diet soft drinks in the week preceding the survey were violent on a par with behavior for alcohol and tobacco use.

SUGAR-LOADED SOFT DRINKS HAVE BEEN TARGETS in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes but never before for violent behavior.

REMEMBER THE “TWINKIE DEFENSE,” used in the 1979 murder of gay rights activist Harvey Milk? The defense attorney stressed a verdict of voluntary manslaughter in part by arguing that his client’s recent switch from a healthy diet to one high in junk food and soft drinks contributed to mental health issues that led to the killing.

OTHER STUDIES HAVE LINKED SODA DRINKING with depression and suicidal behavior. The quality of parenting, which allows for heavy consuming of drinks, may be a factor. Also, researchers are weighing the excess caffeine and sugar (along with the subsequent blood sugar crash) that may leave soda drinkers irritable and prone to aggression. And maybe those who drink all that soda are failing to get adequate nutrients that promote a calmer demeanor.

NUTRITIONISTS AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS may want to rethink allowing sugary soda drinks on campus as a safe alternative to alcohol. Soda is not guilty of alcohol’s motor-skill-impairing effects, but the emotional toll that can build up over time makes drinking water the safest habit.

BRILLIANT YOUNG POLITICAL JUNKIE PASQUALE GIANNI, 17, was a judge election day and found the action exciting. He’s a student at the Fremd High School, interested in how democracy works. His proud granny is Phyllis Caplin, Gold Coaster and also an active civic leader.

Gossip, gossip, gossip

WHO IS THE GORGEOUS BRUNETTE who dumped her hard-working boyfriend because he couldn’t buy her all the jewelry and goodies she wanted? His grandaddy died and left him a few millions and she’s tearing out her hair because he won’t make up with her. Gold digging is tough.

MIKE KUTZA, founder/director of the Chicago International Film Festival, will receive the coveted Sydney Pollack Award at the American Cinematheque gala Nov. 15 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, which will also honor Ben Stiller. Mike’s award is for critical importance in nonprofit film exhibition, preservation and independent film distribution.

HURRICANE SANDY DIDN’T STOP FRANCINE LE FRAK from flying here from New York to hype her Same Sky jewelry line from African artisans suffering from HIV/AIDS at a Saks party orchestrated by Catharine Hamilton and Sugar Rautbord. Le Frak is best known as a Tony Award-winning producer and philanthropist who founded Same Sky to help make natives self supporting. Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep wear the hand-crocheted necklaces, bracelets.

“MY COMEDY KILLS LIKE DREW PETERSON,” is part of a routine by comic Mel Novit and guess who was in his recent audience? Paul Peterson, Drew’s brother, and he laughed! Mel will be on stage Nov. 9 at Belushi’s Comedy Bar on Ontario for two performances.

YALE PROFESSOR DEAN KARLAN, son of Lynn and Dr. Marc Karlan, leads an important free conference on poverty Nov. 14 at the Metropolitan Club, 233 S. Wacker Drive, at 6:30 p.m. Dean founded the revolutionary Innovations for Poverty Action which uses behavioral science and economics to solve problems all over the world and get more results from monies allocated for addressing global poverty. Expert Richard Thaler will also speak. He is co-author of Nudge, a global best seller. Nonprofits invited. Contact

WE REMEMBER GENIUS PHOTOGRAPHER VICTOR SKREBNESKI photographing stunning blond bombshell Anna Nicole Smith for a poster for the Chicago Film Festival, and he made her look even more beautiful. Her strong chin was her only flaw (minor at that), but who looked up that high when meeting her? Ha! She told me her mammoth boobs were real. “They grew after my pregnancy,” she lied. In TV appearances, you could see the tiny scars from her enhancement when she wore low cut gowns. But we felt sorry for the small town model/actress/trophy wife of a Texas oil tycoon (she never got his money) and who died of a drug overdose in 2007. When we asked, the day of her Skrebneski shoot, what this newfound fame meant to her, she answered, “Now all the guys who dumped me will be sorry.”

ANNA NICOLE SMITH WOULD BE THRILLED if she knew Lifetime was making a movie of her short life to air next year. She will be played by indie-film starlet Agnes Bruckner, 27, who has been seen in TV roles on 24 and Private Practice. Will this role elevate her career? Can’t hurt. Jennifer Lopez made it big as murdered singer Selena and Angelina Jolie was a hit as doomed model Gia Carangi.

LAWYER JACK SHORE, patient and wise, has had a fan club since he was president of the condo board at Water Tower Place. It is usually a thankless job that demands long hours and the ability to mediate and guide. Jack had the touch.

WOMEN ARE LESS LIKELY TO MESS UP BIG TIME, says Leon Hoffman, citing Lance Armstrong as the latest in the list that includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Rod Blagojevich and Anthony Weiner. But when women finally get equality in the workplace, which Leon estimates will not be until 2050, will they betray us as men do? Hoffman is optimistic but he admits it is anyone’s guess.

WILL O.J. SIMPSON GO FREE? He’s been trying legal appeals ever since he was sentenced to nine to 33 years in the armed robbery (of some of his sports memorabilia) and kidnapping in 2007 in Las Vegas. Almost everyone was delighted when he got caught, because the popular thinking is that he did kill his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in 1994 although he was found not guilty. But a civil jury found him liable for wrongful death and ordered him to pay $33 million. His lawyers now contend that his former legal team in Vegas was badly represented and he deserves another trial. A Nevada judge has ruled she will consider Simpson’s appeal. The sports star is now 65. (A story in the National Enquirer reported Simpson is asking $5 million for the knife used to kill Nicole and Goldman. True? We may never know.)

THE WHITE COCKATOO OF JOYCE SELANDER, author of the book, Joyce, Queen of the Mountain, about her trading days, will be making his debut in a movie partially shot in her Lake Shore Drive apartment. In Between Engagements, by executive producer Johnny Arreola for Vision Films, has a scene with three guys on a binge and Nickolas, her bird, wanted his show biz break. He got it, says Joyce, by flying in and landing on one man’s arm. Nickolas, 42, says “Hello,” “Scratch Nickolas,” “And do I have to go to my cage?”

ARTIST/SCULPTOR/POET/JEWELRY DESIGNER Lisa Gengler has a new title to add to her resume: conductor. The beautiful Lisa was invited to conduct the Cal Berkeley University Marching Band in Berkeley, Cal. Her family’s patriarch was a football hero and an Iron Man, and Lisa’s daughter, Cynthia Erb, received her architectural degree from the university.

MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, even if he owns Coco Pazzo. Restaurateur Jack Weiss escorted his wife, Tamara, and Lynn Vincent to a recent performance of the Lyric Opera.

WHO SAYS THE WRITTEN WORD IS PASSE? A record $1.5 million was raised at the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner where Chicago authors were pampered, paraded and applauded. Co-chaired by Trisha Alden and Michael Sacks, authors honored were Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Nami Mun and 67 others.

THE ELECTION IS OVER and the world is still standing... for now. Mark Weyermuller, at 1239 N. Dearborn, always has his way with political figures and this year he offered Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a Michael Madigan figure blowing in the wind. His “dead” but active Chicago voter was acknowledged and so was a Clint Eastwood with an empty chair. Ernest Hemingway lived for three months in Mark’s row house, in 1921, and Mark has always said the place is haunted. (By ghosts of voters past.)

A GREAT LADY, Prudence Beidler, was honored for exemplary work on behalf of Illinois children at a Bright Promises Foundation rally at the Arts Club.

ONE OF THE HOTTEST PARTIES OF THE YEAR is Nov. 16 at The Doubles Club on Fifth Avenue in New York City, hosted by the inimitable Brownie McLean. Her Crystal Ball attracts the gilt-edged crowd and benefits the Graduate Space Program in Space Architecture at the U. of Houston, Texas. We told you it is out of this world.

DIRECTOR GARY GRIFFIN is guest at the Sarah Siddons Society luncheon at the WAC Nov. 13. He’s getting raves for his Sunday in the Park with George and other Sondheim productions.

A NEW OUTDOOR SCULPTURE will be dedicated Nov. 15 at the Lurie Children’s Hospital. It is called “Healing Waters” and is by Mark Davis.

THE WEALTHIEST MAN IN THE WORLD — that was H.L. Hunt when he died in 1974. His former estate in Dallas, a replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is for sale for $24 million. Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman’s home in California just sold for $8.5 million.

ACTOR JIMMY SMITS has joined the cast of Steppenwolf’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat on stage Dec. 28 to March 3.

PRESIDENT OBAMA has awarded a National Lifetime Volunteer Call to Service Award to lawyer Jeffery Leving for his commitment as a volunteer for the Fathers & Family Coalition of America. It works to reduce the impact of father absenteeism and to secure happier and healthier families through positive father involvement.


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