Energy Drinks Tied to Teen Troubles

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Energy drink use in teenagers tied to depression and substance use

March 9, 2014 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) Energy drinks are intended to give you a boost, but a new study tied energy drink consumption in teens to a number of negative issues, including depression.

The study looked at teenagers in Canada and measured energy drink use alongside topics like mental health and behavioral issues.

The researchers found that energy drink use was common among the teens, and that consumption of the drinks was associated with depression, substance use and a tendency toward "risky" behaviors. 

"Limit your teen's intake of unhealthy beverages like energy drinks."

According to the authors of this new study, led by Sunday Azagba, PhD, of the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, there has been concern about increased use of energy drinks among teenagers and potential health and behavioral effects. 

To explore the topic, Dr. Azagba and team utilized the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey in the Atlantic Provinces, a survey that included 8,210 students in grades 7, 9, 10 and 12 from public schools across three provinces in Atlantic Canada. The average age of participants was 15.2 years old.

The participants were asked about a variety of topics, including energy drink use, the use of substances like tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, symptoms of depression and academic performance. Students were also asked about "sensation seeking" through questions measuring how much they were drawn to exciting, unpredictable and frightening experiences and people.

The data showed that almost two thirds of the participants (62 percent) had reported drinking energy drinks at least once during the previous year. Around 20 percent of the students reported using energy drinks once or more per month.

Dr. Azagba and team found that male students were more likely to consume energy drinks than female students, and younger students were more likely to consume energy drinks than older students.

The researchers also found that higher reported levels of depressive symptoms, sensation seeking behavior and substance use were associated with a higher likelihood of energy drink use.

"The prevalence of energy drink consumption among high school students was high," wrote Dr. Azagba and team. "The association of energy drinks with other potential negative health and behavioral outcomes suggests that use of these products may represent a marker for other activities that may negatively affect adolescent development, health and well-being."

Further research is needed to confirm these findings and fully understand the relationship between energy drink use and health and behavioral issues in teens.

This study was published online February 4 by the journal Preventative Medicine. No conflicts of interest were reported. 

Review Date: 
March 7, 2014
Last Updated:
March 10, 2014