Energy drink consumption by students of high school age, appears to be leading to behavioral problems, as researchers have discovered a possible link between the consumption of high-energy drinks and some mental health issues. The research has led to a call to reduce the amount of caffeine in the high energy drinks, at the same time that a recommendation for reducing the access to teenagers has been made.
The investigation that involved the examination of more than 8000 high school students in Atlantic Canada, found 60 percent of the respondents consumed energy drinks during the year, and 20 percent of the students drank the beverage at least once each month. The study found that there was a correlation between the more frequent consumers and the occurrence of substance abuse problems.
Lead investigator, Sunday Azagba, who is a researcher at the Propel Centre, at the University of Waterloo, says that there may also be a higher tendency for heavy consumers of the energy drinks to be thrill- seekers, and they were also more likely to suffer bouts of depression.
Researchers, do not yet understand why energy drink consumption may lead to behavioral problems, but are concerned because, a relatively large number of younger teenagers consume high-energy drinks that offer temporary benefits of enhanced mental clarity, improvement in moods and increased alertness.
Azagba attributes some of the blame to the marketing campaigns that have been designed to appeal to young adults with brand names such as Rockstar Energy, Monster Energy, and the venerable slogan : Red Bull gives you wings.
Results of the study, published in the journal of Preventative Medicine, indicate that energy drinks have also been associated with other negative effects such as sleep impairment and disruption of the cardiovascular system. Kathleen Miller, a research scientist at the Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, is not surprised at the discoveries, which she describes as being troubling. She indicated that there continues to be an increasing amount of evidence that shows there are potential harmful effects from heavy consumption of energy drinks.
It is not the amount of caffeine, that has caused the concern, as the high energy drinks contain not much more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, but it appears to be the sub-culture that is delivered with the marketing messages. Miller cites Red Bull as an example that promotes a risk-taking, thrill seeking attitude, while being major sponsors of extreme sports.
Sales of energy drinks have skyrocketed in recent years to where the market value in the US alone is estimated to be more than $20 billion, and the research can be used to indicate that education and awareness of the potential dangerous effects may be needed.
There is some concurrent research being conducted to explore apparent links between risky sexual behavior, and the consumption of energy drinks mixed with alcohol. The researchers believe that energy drink consumption may lead to behavioral problems, as the risky behavior is some enhanced in the presence of the alcohol, which impairs cognitive ability.
Written By Dale Davidson