Energy Drinks Linked To Unhealthy Behaviors In Youth


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Youth consuming energy drinks were more likely to play video games for hours, drink sugar-sweetened beverages, and smoke, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Researchers for the study, published in the May/June issue of the academic journal, surveyed about 2,800 adolescents from grades 6 through 12 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota region. The classroom survey asked students about their sports drink and energy drink consumption, as well as other behaviors.

According to a LiveScience article, 38 percent of those surveyed said they consumed sports drinks at least once a week, while 15 percent said they consumed energy drinks at least once per week.

On average, teens who consumed sports drinks or energy drinks at least once per week played more hours of video games, drank more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages, and were more likely to have tried smoking, than those who consumed sports drinks or energy drinks less than once per week.

Boys who drank energy drinks at least once per week spent on average four more hours playing video games than boys who drank energy drinks less often. About 20 percent of boys and girls who consumed energy drinks frequently said they had smoked cigarettes, compared to eight percent of those who did not consume energy drinks as frequently.

Researchers write that the findings “are troubling because they may indicate a clustering of problem behaviors among some adolescents.”

But because the study was conducted all at once, there is no way to prove that consuming sports drinks and energy drinks caused these behaviors. Researchers cannot say which came first—the sports and energy drink consumption or the unhealthy behaviors.

“Based on this study, we can't blame the sports and energy drinks at all,” Dr. Jason Block, an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. “It's just that adolescents who aren't focused on healthy behaviors are more likely to consume these beverages.”

Researchers said that future studies that follow teens over time are needed to determine the reason for the link.

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