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Health experts assess risks of long−term energy drink consumption

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 07:12



Though students may increase consumption of energy drinks to stay awake throughout finals this semester, health experts are wary of the toll they may take.

“[Companies] are good at promoting [energy drinks],” Sivaraman said. “We all got a box of Red Bulls outside of our [dorm rooms] at the beginning of this year.”

Farrow agreed that energy drinks are marketed toward a younger population, but that a key concern is also general caffeine consumption.

“I’m not so concerned about someone who has one [caffeinated beverage] a day,” Farrow said. “If we’re looking at someone who drinks [them] all day long, or who drinks several at night to stay up all night long for three nights in a row, we’re looking at the behavior and what’s happening to your body in response to all the stimulants.”

Wong agreed, noting that getting a little boost when working and studying is fine, especially as finals approach. Still, while Wong and Farrow both said that caffeine can be helpful in the short term, they warned that caffeine can be habit−forming to the point where it is no longer a useful study aid.

“It’s enough to [drink caffeine] to keep your focus,” Wong said. “When you’re doing it to keep from falling asleep, that’s when you’ve got problems. That’s when you need to sleep.”

Some students feel they could do better academically if they altered their sleeping habits and their caffeine consumption.

“I didn’t intend for it to be a long−term kind of thing, but I’m realizing that it might be. Am I tired? All the time,” Fields said. “It’s more so the lack of sleep that affects my health and my exercise.”

While the short−term benefits may seem worth it, Farrow argued that the health effects on individuals frequently and consistently consuming energy drinks are detrimental.

“My concern is overall healthy habits and not so much that there is overuse of energy drinks. Are students eating enough, moving enough, getting enough sleep at night? It is adequate amounts of all those things that make a difference ... It will make you more successful,” Farrow said. “For the short term, [caffeine] might give you a boost and it might let you stay up, but you’re going to crash.”

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