Energy Drinks Linked to Risky Teen Behavior

Posted May 28, 2008 by

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Could Red Bull and Amp be behind some of your teen’s behavior? A new study from Kathleen Miller at the University of Buffalo links energy drinks to risky behavior, including substance abuse, unprotected sex, and violence. Miller was careful to point out that the drinks don’t cause the bad behavior, but that teens and ‘tweens who consume them are “more likely to take risks with their health and safety.” (The study, by the way, focused on teen athletes, energy drinks, and risky behavior. Her team coined the phrase “Toxic Jock” during the course of their research, which was reported in the Journal of American College Health.)

More than a 30 percent of kids aged 12-24 say they drink Red Bull, Amp, Rock Star and the like regularly. Even though each energy drink contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, since they’re served cold, kids tend to consume a lot at one time. But they can’t always take the excessive amounts of caffeine in their systems: children in Colorado and Florida have been sent to the emergency room from downing too much of the high octane drinks, and high school teachers around the country have been reporting that students seem drunk or buzzed due to their consumption.

What do you think? Is there a “Red Bull Effect,” or is this just another excuse for kids’ bad behavior?


Elisabeth Wilkins is the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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