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Energy drinks are associated with health risks for teens

There has been a great deal of concern about the potential health risks of energy drinks on teens. Energy drinks have been linked to teen health risks, reported the University of Waterloo News on March 5, 2014. Although the energizing effects of energy drinks are well advertised, a new report has found consumption among teenagers of these drinks may be linked with poor mental health and substance use.

A hostess promoting XL energy drinks at the first Barman's festival held for food and drink professionals in Tel Aviv, Israel.
David Silverman/Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University, published a paper in Preventive Medicine, which says they have found that high school students who are prone to depression as well as those who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol are more likely to drink energy drinks than their peers. Caffeinated energy drink consumption patterns among high school students is viewed as an emerging adolescent health risk.

These researchers surveyed 8210 students in grades 7, 9, 10 and 12 attending public schools in Atlantic, Canada. They found that about 62 percent of survey respondents reported consuming energy drinks at least once in the previous year, with about 20 percent reporting use once or more per month. It was observed that sensation seeking, depression, and substance use were all higher among users of energy drinks relative to non-users, and in the higher frequency users relative to the lower frequency users.

The researchers concluded that the prevalence of energy drink consumption among high school students was high. The association of energy drinks with other potential negative health and behavioral outcomes has suggested that consumption of these drinks may represent a marker for other activities which may negatively affect the development, health and well-being of adolescents.

Although it is not clear why these associations exist, the trend is a concern because of the high rate of consumption of energy drinks among teenagers. The negative side effects of these drinks are caused primarily by the high concentration of caffeine in these drinks. These researchers are calling for limits on teen’s access to energy drinks and a reduced amount of caffeine in each drink. Clearly, too much energy drink consumption by teens represents a serious health concern which therefore should be dealt with as suggested by these researchers.

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