I came across an interesting news story this weekend - some stunning results from a recent study. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego have discovered that sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to smoke marijuana. Ah, duh. My question would be which came first, the weed or the lack of sleep?
But that wasn't the point of the study. Nope the point or main finding was if a teen was sleep-deprived and smoked weed then so did members of his social network. You've heard of the Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation theory? With weed, the network's even smaller. In the UCSD study the level of influence was four degrees of separation. Of course if these guys got together to buy their snack foods they could save a bundle on buying cheese doodles in bulk.
But at the centre of the study was influence and influence over negative behaviour. The most popular teen in the social group could influence his friends in their behaviour, be it wacky tobacco, junk food or sleeping less than 7 hours a night. The trick now would be to substitute the negative activity with positive things. Right?
In a related news story, I may have found the answer to waking up the participants in the previous study. Here in the Great White North, Health Canada plans to allow soft drink makers to increase the amount of caffeine in carbonated drinks. While the new levels would be clearly indicated on soft drink container labels, nutritionists worry people won't pay attention to them and thus might over-indulge. They say the higher caffeine level soft drinks could match the amount of coffee some adults drink a day.
Now the rest of us just have to decide which we'd prefer. Do we want a bunch of zombie-fied, weed-induced, half-asleep teens. Or would we prefer a group of hopped-up, twitchy, bug-eyed adult wannabes?
Isn't there a middle ground? Where's a survey on the effects of eating vegetables and fruit when you need one?
This post originally appeared on Sound Off To America.