Energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement (besides multivitamins) consumed by teenagers and young adults. They deliver a rush of caffeine, often ranging from 80 mg to 200 mg per serving, which provides a surge of energy and increased mental performance.
Oftentimes, energy drinks are taken to aid in late-night study sessions, drowsy driving and night shifts. Although they may be helpful in the short-term, they can have lasting negative impacts on overall health.
Caffeine, whether in coffee, soda, chocolate, or energy drinks, is associated with anxiety, stress, headaches, insomnia, digestive problems and dehydration. Consumed in large amounts, caffeine can cause heart rhythm disturbances, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and even cardiac arrest. These side-effects are much more common amongst people who have preexisting heart conditions; however, some may not know that they are high-risk and consume one too many.
Energy drinks don’t just contain caffeine; most of them also carry high amounts of sugar and herbal extracts. Just one serving of AMP contains a staggering 29 grams of sugar- not only are you feeling the effects of caffeine, but you’re also partly on a sugar high. The herbal extracts, which can include ginseng, guarana, carnitine and taurine add yet an extra boost of energy that is unaccounted for on the nutrition label.
Teens and children especially ought not consume energy drinks; yet around 31 percent of 12-to-17 year olds say they drink them on a regular basis. According to the NIH, the high amounts of caffeine may harm children’s developing cardiovascular and nervous systems, and even lead to addiction.
Many of these teens are aware that these drinks are bad for our health, so why are they still consuming them?
The often unrealistic expectations of modern society is likely to blame. Throughout the past few decades, society has placed an ever-growing emphasis on going to college to land a steady job; yet, it has become increasingly difficult to get into and pay for a college education. The pressure to participate in extracurricular activities, prep for and perform well on standardized tests, and maintain excellent grades is enormous, and many high school students are unable to find enough time in the day to manage these responsibilities. Thus, sleep is usually sacrificed, and teens will rely on these energy drinks to help carry them through the next day.
Sadly, the “success” of teens in the college application process has been idolized at the expense of their mental well-being. Until American culture changes its perspective, energy drinks will still be consumed repeatedly by today’s teens.