Energy Drinks and Youth

Energy Drinks and Youth

By Sargun Bhatia

Energy drinks have been a part of society for a long time. However, in the recent five years, there has been a rapid rise in the sales of energy drinks, particularly in teens. This industry has become worth over $49.9 billion dollars over the last few years.

Energy drinks are advertised toward people who desire a boost in energy. They are marketed as being physically and mentally enhancing, as well as being an aphrodisiac for youth.

sagun bhatiaAccording to an article in the March 2011 issue of “Paediatrics,” 30 to 50 per cent of adolescents and young adults reportedly consume energy drinks. The main ingredients in these drinks are caffeine and sugar. The repercussions of regular use of these drinks are controversial.

As has been mentioned before, energy drinks have existed for a long time, but have become a trend recently. This is due to the aggressive and persistent marketing strategies that promote a certain “image” associated with energy drink drinkers.

In the imaged-centred generation of today, the social ideal is being rebellious, sporty, sexually appealing and “standing out of the crowd”. Marketing executives recognise the potential of this market, and have thus changed their marketing campaigns in recent years to strategically target this demographic.

The sexualisation of young adults has led to a dramatic rise in amount of teen drinkers. This shows that the trend of energy drinks is very clearly linked to advertising campaigns openly targeting a certain type of people.  The trend of energy drinks is due to the strong branding of them. They are branded to be “oozing in sexuality”- thus attracting a large new market globally- resulting in an international trend of energy drinks as a non-alcoholic substitute to enhance confidence.

Personally, I believe that energy drinks are unneeded in society- particularly in youth. This is because everything that energy drinks claim to do, can be done in a safer, healthier way. By this, I mean that majority of energy drinks claim to provide enhanced physical performance, an energy boost, and lower risks of disease. Thus, natural, or less chemical dominated ingredients are a better option.

For example, the following everyday foods also satisfy the claims, whilst having significantly fewer consequences:

Enhanced physical performance:

To substitute large amounts of carbs in energy drinks, athletes may opt for these ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Toast/muffins etc.
  • Fruit salad
  • Yoghurt
  • Pasta with tomato-based sauce
  • Muesli bar
  • Low-fat creamed rice

Energy boost:

To substitute large amounts of caffeine in energy drinks, teens may opt for these ingredients for longer periods of energy increase:

  • Bananas
  • Hummus
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Salmon
  • Greek yoghurt

Lowering risks of disease:

Some energy drinks claim to have “miracle” ingredients which reduce risks of heart disease, lower cholesterol etc. Many users believe this claim is an added bonus to energy high. The foods suggested below also offer the same benefits, and have been proven.

  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Chickpeas
  • Spinach

In addition, I believe that teenagers that are going through puberty experience changes in themselves which are already linked to higher levels of energy. Thus, they should not feel any need for energy drinks in the first place. As well as this, habits developed in youth lead into adulthood. Energy drinks promote a negative lifestyle, which could lead to deteriorating health much earlier than non-drinkers.

Photo Caption: Sargun Bhatia

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