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article imageAmerican Teenagers Getting Buzzed On Energy Drinks

By Nikki Weingartner     May 27, 2008 in Health
Teen health concern over energy drinks is raised as a recent study reveals that regular drinking of these beverages are linked to risky behaviours. A frightening revelation in that one-third of the nation's teens consume energy drinks regularly.
Ever been to a local coffee house only to see half a dozen or more 13 to 17-year-olds grouped in a corner laughing it up over a quad iced soy latte? For the American teen, this is the least of our worries as parents.
They have a section of their own in the local convenience store: Energy Drinks. And with names on the label that make impressionable kids believe they are able to overpower anything, who can blame them for making the choice?
A New York Times blog takes on the invincible teen mindset and how nowadays, they are mixing these energy drinks with alcohol like a Jagerbomb or mixing it with vodka (because parents cannot smell vodka). But ultimately asking the question, "do you allow your kids to consume them?"
In 2006, a news article provided some interesting statistics with regards to teens and energy drinks:
Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. That represents 7.6 million teens, a jump of almost 3 million in three years.
Where are those stats today?
Well, according to one article, about one-third of all 12 to 24-year-olds regularly consume energy drinks, padding the pockets at around $3 BILLION annually in sales.
A major problem with the drinks is that Emergency Rooms and Poison Centers are seeing cases of caffeine related nausea and heart problems related to the drinks. Again, teens have a natural disposition for the risky and another trend is downing several of the drinks back to back to create a "buzz" so its no wonder they are having problems.
One Colorado principal went as far as banning energy drinks when several of his students became ill from drinking a particular brand.
The drinks have also been linked to risky and aggressive behaviours:
In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study's author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with "toxic jock" behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.
So what is in one of the more neutral brands of these powerful potions that teens find so appealing?
Ingredients: carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, citric acid, taurine, natural flavors, sodium citrate, l-carnitine, panax ginseng root extract, ascorbic acid, caffeine, sodium chloride, niacinamide, riboflavin, guarana seed extract, inositol, glucuronalactone, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanobalmin
Nutrition Facts: serving size 8 fl oz; servings per container 2; calories 100; total carbs 26g; sugars 26g; vitamin c 60mg; riboflavin 1.7mg; niacin 20mg; vitamin b6 2mg; vitamin b12 6mcg; sodium 180mg; taurine 1000mg; panax-ginseng 200mg; energy blend 2500mg
“Developed to provide energy and for periods of increased mental and physical exertion. Helps temporarily restore mental alertness or wakefulness when experiencing fatigue or drowsiness”
And that is on one 16 fluid ounce can. The kids are buying two or more and downing them.
Also, one of the main ingredients found in several of the energy drinks is Taurine which is important in the production of bile. You read correctly.
There are also many a blogspot dedicated to the energyhead looking for a review on whats best out there, including which one gives the best "buzz".
Although some controversy exists in their usage for athletes, as caffeine is no stranger in the athletic world, energy drinks have little value for the average individual. But for the young teen whose brain is still developing and whose ability to make mature decisions is far from set, their abuse is clearly commonplace in today's society.
"Cocaine looks so freaking tight. I NEED THIS STUFF. Next weekend, me and 3 friends are going to take a 6-hour roadtrip to NYC just to get our hands on this stuff." — From a comment on the MySpace page of Cocaine Energy Drink.
As for the group of teens in the coffee house, a 116 mg dopio sounds a lot safer that sporting a buzz from 24 plus ounces of pure caffeine and sugar with 180 mg of labeled caffeine but a lot of caffeine from unlabeled sources!
*Swedish researchers recommend that certain products not be mixed with alcoholic beverages.
More about Energy drinks, Teens, Harmful