March 6, 2014
Depression Associated With Teenage Energy Drink Consumption: Study
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A new study published in Preventive Medicine is linking energy drink consumption among teenagers to poor mental health.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University found that high school students prone to depression or those who smoke marijuana and drink alcohol are more likely to consume energy drinks.
“While it remains unclear why these associations exist, the trend is a concern because of the high rate of consumption among teenagers,” Sunday Azagba, PhD, a researcher at the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo and lead author on the paper, said in a statement. “These drinks appeal to young people because of their temporary benefits like increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical energy.”
The researchers are calling for limits to be placed in order to put a damper on teenager’s access to such drinks. They are also recommending manufacturers reduce the amount of caffeine in each can.
The study was based on data from the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey, which included 8,210 high school students. The researchers found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they had used energy drinks at least once in the past year. They also found that more than 20 percent of the students were consuming an energy drink once or more per month.
“Marketing campaigns appear designed to entice youth and young adults,” said Azagba. “It’s a dangerous combination, especially for those at an increased risk for substance abuse.”
Energy drinks have come under fire lately as more studies reveal the negative side of drinks like Monster and Red Bull. Last month scientists found that teens who consume energy drinks are at a higher risk of substance abuse. Consumption of these beverages has also been linked to cardiovascular symptoms, sleep impairment, nervousness and nausea.
“Given the negative effects of excessive caffeine consumption as well as the coincident occurrence of the use of energy drinks and other negative behaviors in teens, the trends we are seeing are more than cause for concern,” said Azagba.
Despite all the negative press surrounding energy drinks, sales jumped up to $20 billion in 2013 in the US.
“In our opinion, at the very least steps should be taken to limit teens’ access to energy drinks, to increase public awareness and education about the potential harms of these drinks and to minimize the amount of caffeine available in each unit,” said Azagba. “This won’t eliminate the problem entirely, but steps like these can help mitigate harm to our youth that appears to be associated with consumption of these drinks. This is something we need to take seriously. Change won’t happen without a concerted effort.”