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The consumption of energy drinks by teenagers is constantly on the rise. A new study correlates the consumption of energy drinks with risky behavior in teenagers. Read on to find out more about the study.

Linkage between Higher Consumption of Energy Drinks and Risky Behavior in Teens

Owing to the aggressive marketing campaigns by energy drink manufacturers, more and more teens find it fashionable to consume drinks such as Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, and Amp. Energy drink makers claim that consumption of these drinks can boost your energy and improve your athletic performance. Some energy drink makers also promise a clearer mind with better thinking and analyzing abilities. All these benefits of energy drinks seem quite attractive to adolescents who want to excel in academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities. An increase in consumption of these energy drinks leads to depression among teenagers and they tend to seek risky experiences, alcoholism, and drug abuse. It has also been observed that parents think that these drinks are harmless and therefore do not stop their children from getting addicted to these drinks.

As per a recent study published in Preventive Medicine, consumption of energy drinks has a direct correlation with teenage health issuessuch as elevated blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, and various digestive problems. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University. For the study, a sample population of approximately 8,210 high school students was taken. 

The study found that the students who were prone to depression and those who involved in risky behavior were more likely to consume energy drinks in comparison with the other teens.

It was found that almost two thirds of the teenagers comprising the sample population were consuming energy drinks at least once in the previous year and about 20% of the teenagers admitted consumption of energy drinks at least once or more per month. Another key observation of the study was that the more addicted the teenagers were to these caffeinated energy drinks, the more likely they were to be depressed and also involved in substance use, specifically marijuana and alcohol. The study found that risky behavior, wherein people get involved in novel but dangerous activities to seek excitement, was also more pronounced in teenagers who were consuming energy drinks. The study led to the conclusion that younger teenagers were more likely to consume energy drinks in comparison to their older peers. It was also found that boys were more likely to consume energy drinks than girls. The researchers suggested that the vast popularity of the energy drinks can be attributed to the fact that parents are not aware of the difference between an aerated drink such as Coke and an energy drink such as Red Bull.

The huge popularity of energy drinks in younger teens is largely due to the manner in which these drinks are marketed.

Adolescents become easy targets of the energy drink marketing campaigns that claim these drinks to be daring, rebellious, and thrilling.

The study found that the consumption of energy drinks was lower in the children of parents who were college educated. Kids who were raised by single parents were found to be more likely to consume energy drinks. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine which can have serious consequences on the physical and mental health of teens.

Energy Drinks and Carbonated Drinks

Energy drinks are beverages that have high amounts of caffeine and other similar stimulants such as ginseng and guarana. Commonly available energy drinks include Monster, Red Bull, Rock Star, Full Throttle, Cocaine, and Rage. The average amount of caffeine in an energy drink can vary from 75 milligrams to 200 milligrams per serving. On the other hand, the amount of caffeine in carbonated drinks ranges between 30 to 60 milligrams per serving. There are certain energy drinks which are advertised as ‘no caffeine drinks’. These energy drinks instead contain guarana which is similar to caffeine. Some energy drinks might also contain B vitamins. However, it is important to note that these vitamins can be consumed by eating a variety of day-to-day foods or even taking daily supplements of minerals and vitamins.

Though it cannot be denied that we all go through times when we need a little boost of energy, but consuming energy drinks is certainly not a healthy way to get the boost.

Energy drinks do provide a boost but it is very short-lived and can have serious health ramifications.

Dangers of Consuming Energy Drinks

Some of the dangers associated with consuming energy drinks are listed below:

  • Cardiovascular Risks: The high concentration of caffeine found in energy drinks can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Consuming energy drinks can cause heart palpitations. Consuming energy drinks can also increase heart rate and blood pressure. People suffering from heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should avoid drinking caffeine laced energy drinks as it increases their risk of high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Alcohol addiction: People often mix alcohol and energy drinks to be awake for longer hours. Energy drinks work as stimulants and alcohol is known to work as a depressant. Combining the two leads to a masking effect of the levels of intoxication and people fail to realize the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
  • Risk of drug abuse: Studies have shown that an over dependence on energy drinks leads to a subsequent dependence on prescription drugs.
  • Weight gain: Almost all energy drinks have sugar. Consuming too much of energy drinks can lead to a weight gain owing to the sugar content of these drinks.
  • Risk of miscarriage: Pregnant women should avoid drinking energy drinks. Studies have shown that consumption of about 200 milligrams of caffeine per day by pregnant women phenomenally increases their chances of a miscarriage.
  • Increased risk of dehydration: Teenagers who become addicted to energy drinks often tend to drink energy drinks instead of water to quench their thirst. The stimulants present in energy drinks tend to act as diuretics and can propagate acute dehydration.
  • Increased risk of mental health problems: Energy drinks are often consumed by teenagers to overcome their depression. Teenagers who are prone to depression and are alcoholic/substance abusers tend to drink energy drinks. The more intense consumers of energy drinks are likely to be more depressed and have a higher likelihood of indulging in substance abuse. 
Read full article

  • “An emerging adolescent health risk: Caffeinated energy drink consumption patterns among high school students”, by Sunday Azagba, et al. Published in the Volume 62, May 2014 issue of Preventive Medicine, accessed on April 15, 2014
  • “Caffeinated energy drinks—A growing problem” by Chad J. Reissig, et al. Published in the Volume 99, January 2009 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, accessed on April 15, 2014
  • Photo courtesy of Daniel Juřena by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/daniel_jurena/11465857224/
  • Photo courtesy of Dosionair by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/dosenpaparazzi/7240275562

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