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High school students miscalculate caffeine boost as health benefit

Grace Baldwin, August 2, 2022 6:30PM Kids News

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One in five teenagers consumes energy drinks under the impression they are good for health, a study has found. Picture: file image media_cameraOne in five teenagers consumes energy drinks under the impression they are good for health, a study has found. Picture: file image

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One in five teenagers consumes energy drinks under the impression they are good for health, a study has found.

The concerning new research questioned almost 4000 high school students about the high-caffeine*, high-sugar drinks and found that boys were much likelier to drink them.

Australian regulations ­require brands to label their drinks as “not suitable for children”, yet the findings published in the Journal of ­Nutrition Education and ­Behaviour revealed many teens still believed the drinks were beneficial.

Energy Drinks Case Study media_cameraEnergy drink brands are active sponsors in sports including skateboarding but consuming these high-caffeine, high-sugar drinks is linked to headaches, insomnia, fatigue, irritation and hyperactivity. Picture: Toby Zerna

This confusion was despite energy drink consumption being linked to headaches, stomach aches, insomnia*, ­fatigue*, irritation and hyperactivity* and inattention symptoms.

The research also revealed teens who drank energy drinks were more likely to have parents who did not understand the health risks and were willing to buy them for their children.

Teens who drank energy drinks were also found to have a stronger propensity* for “sensation seeking”, a personality trait that craves risky or adrenaline-fuelled experiences.

This disposition* makes them especially vulnerable* to the marketing of ­energy drinks, which are often portrayed as products to boost energy and performance and linked to high-risk ­activities such as motor racing or extreme sport.

Supercars races media_cameraEnergy drinks are often portrayed as performance enhancing and linked to high-risk activities like motor racing, as seen in this Monster-sponsored car. Picture: Evan Morgan

Red Bull, for example, partners with brands such as Puma, Tag Heuer and Honda, while Monster Energy sponsors the likes of UFC fighters, professional skateboarders and Formula One drivers.

The energy drink market is predicted to swell to a staggering $72 billion by 2024.

Separate market analysis showed teens who drink energy drinks were more likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviour, including smoking, alcohol consumption and other substance use, as well as have ­issues with regulation* and metacognitive* skills.

QLD_GCB_SPORT_REMY media_cameraBMX rider Remy Morton returns to racing in a Red Bull-sponsored competition this month after a huge crash that put him in a coma. Energy drinks feature prominently in extreme and experimental sport sponsorships. Picture: Glenn Hampson

One 16-year-old girl said she did not make a habit of drinking the beverages, but sometimes bought one after school.

“I know they’re not great for you, but sometimes I get to the end of a school day and I am just absolutely exhausted,” she said.

“You get up at around 7am, sit through a whole school day and then go straight home, only to study through to 11pm – assuming you don’t have extra-curricular activities.

“It’s not something I recommend, but they taste good and sometimes I feel like I’d benefit from a hit of caffeine.”

Various Energy Drink Brands media_cameraThe energy drink market is predicted to reach a whopping $72 billion by 2024 – but buyer beware, as these products do not deliver health benefits. Picture: file image

Due to the prevalence* of teenagers incorrectly believing energy drinks were beneficial for their health, the researchers suggested campaigns or ­initiatives were necessary to educate students on the health risks.

GLOSSARY

  • caffeine: chemical in coffee and energy drinks that stimulates brain and nervous system
  • insomnia: chronic sleep disorder, difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • fatigue: state of tiredness, exhaustion, drowsiness
  • hyperactivity: having more energy than is normal, easily excited, being unable to stay still
  • propensity: tendency to behave in a certain way, inclination
  • disposition: nature, character, qualities of mind and character
  • vulnerable: easily physically or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked
  • regulation: ability to monitor and manage emotions, thoughts and behaviours
  • metacognitive: related to your knowledge and understanding of your own thinking
  • prevalence: the fact of something existing or happening often

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What proportion of teenagers drink energy drinks believing they’re good for health?
  2. How many high school students were questioned as part of the research?
  3. Energy drink consumption is linked to what poor health symptoms?
  4. The energy drink market is predicted to grow to what amount by 2024?
  5. Monster Energy sponsors which sports?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Energy drink dangers
The researchers of this study say it is necessary to educate students on the health risks of these high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks. Work with a partner and come up with three ideas on how best to do this. It might be an advertising campaign, a ban on their use at sporting events etc.

Proposal 1:

Proposal 2:

Proposal 3:

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Why do you believe boys are more likely than girls to consume these energy drinks?

What advertising or marketing schemes do you see that would attract younger people to want to drink these unhealthy drinks?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
I spy nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick three nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

Extra Reading in health