Harvard Medical School has done research on whether or not soda is linked to early menstruation in girls. The study followed 5,500 girls, ages 9 through 14, and found that girls who drank one 12 oz. soda daily started their period three months earlier than the girls who only had one or two sodas a week, regardless of other factors such as height, BMI, activity, and food intake. They also found that fruit juice did not have the same effect, indicating that the extra sugar is the problem.

The normal age to start puberty is between 8 and 13 years of age. In the previous generation, only 5% of girls began puberty before then; now the figure is double that. Dr. Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist, says that the extra sugar can overload the liver, causing problems with insulin which, in turn, causes problems with hormones.

Researchers believe there is a link between early menstruation and breast cancer, and though the role soda plays in the risk of breast cancer is modest, it should not be overlooked.

If you start young, it is easier teach your kids that when they are thirsty they should drink water. Of course, setting the example yourself will be the best way to reinforce this. You can also teach your kids that sodas are like candy, best in small amounts or as a treat.

There is currently a movement to get rid of sodas in schools, and some schools have taken this step. On the other hand, some soda companies fundraise for schools. Many parents would rather not have the funds than expose their kids to the temptation of sodas that are too readily available. If you don’t want your child to drink sodas at school, this may be a challenge. If your kids know and understand the rules, they are more likely follow them.