A recent study has reportedly associated non-diet soft drink consumption among teenagers with an increased risk for violent tendencies, raising questions about the legitimacy of the so-called “Twinkie Defense” used in the 1979 trial of Dan White for the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Sara Solnick and David Hemenway, “The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students,” Injury Prevention, October 2011. A collaboration between Harvard School of Public Health Professor David Hemenway and University of Vermont Economics Professor Sara Solnick, the study relied on questionnaires completed by more than 1,800 Boston public high school students ages 14 to 18 years.

According to an October 28, 2011, Harvard Crimson article, the results
evidently showed that “teens who drank more soft drinks were between nine
and fifteen percent more likely to be violent” even after researchers accounted
for other factors, “including gender, age, ethnicity, body mass index, alcohol
use, tobacco use, and sleep.” As Hemenway explained, “The more soda the
students drank, the more likely the students were to perpetrate violence. It
was violence in all areas—against peers, against dates, against siblings—and
they were even more likely to carry guns.”

Although Hemenway and Solnick noted that there may be “a direct cause-and-effect relationship” between soft drink consumption and violence due to sugar and caffeine content, they were equally quick to theorize about other causes. “People who drink a lot of soda are missing out on other proper nutrition, and that may lead to aggression and violence,” Solnick said. “There are so many different factors that contribute to the problem, and we want to untangle all of them.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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