Teenagers who drink large amounts of soft drinks are more likely to be aggressive and violent, US researchers claimed Tuesday.

Drinking more than five cans of soda a week was linked to significantly higher levels of violent assaults, scientists from the University of Vermont found after surveying 1,878 teenagers aged 14 to 18 from 22 schools in Boston.

Participants were asked how many non-diet soft drinks they drank during the past week, with a higher consumption increasing the likelihood of them being violent.

Just over 23 percent of those drinking one or no cans had carried a gun or knife, rising to just under 43 percent of those drinking 14 or more cans.

Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, the researchers suggested that sugar or caffeine could lead to aggression.

"There was a significant and strong association between soft drinks and violence," study leader Sara Solnick said.

Seena Fazel, senior lecturer in forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford, added, "It does suggest that a trial of an intervention to reduce high soft-drink consumption may be worth considering in high-risk populations."

Critics argued that the study was too simplistic and claimed that social factors were a more likely cause.

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