A new report finds that consumption of energy drinks among teenagers may be linked with poor mental health and substance abuse.
The paper also found that high-school students prone to depression as well as those who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol are more likely to consume energy drinks than peers.
“While it remains unclear why these associations exist, the trend is a concern because of the high rate of consumption among teenagers,” said Sunday Azagba, a researcher at the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at Ontario-based University of Waterloo.
Among the 8,210 high-school students surveyed, nearly two-thirds reported using energy drinks at least once in the past year, with more than 20 percent consuming them once or more per month.
Younger high-school students were more likely to consume energy drinks than older ones.
“Marketing campaigns are designed to entice youth and young adults. It is a dangerous combination, especially for those at an increased risk for substance abuse,” Azagba noted.
Energy drinks have been associated with a number of negative health effects, including cardiovascular symptoms, sleep impairment and nervousness and nausea.
The side effects are caused by the beverages’ high concentration of caffeine, said the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
“Given the negative effects of excessive caffeine consumption as well as the coincident occurrence of the use of energy drinks and other negative behaviors in teens, the trends we are seeing are more than cause for concern,” explained Azagba.
“In our opinion, steps should be taken to limit teens’ access to energy drinks, to increase public awareness and education about the potential harms of these drinks and to minimise the amount of caffeine available in each unit,” the researchers stressed.