February 29, 2016 12:34 pm
Updated: February 29, 2016 1:33 pm

U.S. school bans energy drinks because they’re tied to risky behaviour

Cans of energy drinks are displayed in a store in San Diego, California. (Photo credit: EARL S.CRYER/AFP/Getty Images)

EARL S.CRYER/AFP/Getty Images
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An American college is garnering international attention after it decided to ban the sale of energy drinks on campus because they’re tied to “problematic behaviour” including “high-risk sex.”

Officials at Middlebury College in Vermont are prohibiting the sale of drinks, such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy, because they don’t add to the school’s mission to “nourish” students, according to U.S. reports.

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A flyer in one of the college’s cafeterias states: “Energy drink consumption facilitates unhealthy work habits such as prolonged periods of sleeplessness, contributing to a campus culture of stress and unsustainable study habits.”

Handfuls of studies have warned that energy drinks could lead to abnormal heart rhythm and seizures and health officials are also concerned about caffeine and sugar levels. But research hasn’t tied energy drink consumption to “problematic behaviour.”

A University of Buffalo study warned of a potential link between alcohol mixed with energy drinks and “sexual risk-taking.”

If youth drank energy drinks more than six days a week, they were three times as likely as their peers to smoke cigarettes, abuse prescription drugs and get into physical altercations.

They drank more often and practiced unsafe sex and they were more likely to do “something dangerous on a dare” or not wear a seatbelt, the report suggests.

The U.S. outlets suggest that college authorities are worried the energy drinks could trigger students to drive drunk or do drugs.

“I see it as the equivalent of banning cigarettes,” Dan Detora, executive director of dining hall services at the college, told NBC News.

READ MORE: Energy drinks could lead to dangerous side effects side effects in kids, report warns

He said energy drinks have been tied to heart issues, seiures and liver damage. But the ban doesn’t stop students drinking the controversial beverages – only from purchasing them on campus.

Another piece of Canadian research – out of the University of Waterloo and the Dalhousie University – claims teens (who drink energy drinks?) are more likely to smoke marijuana, drink booze and have mental health issues.

“Given the negative effects of excessive caffeine consumption as well as the coincident occurrence of the use of energy drinks and other negative behaviours in teens, the trends we are seeing are more than cause for concern,” the researchers said.

 

In 2014, U.S. poison control centres have received more than 5,100 calls about energy drinks and 40 per cent of the time, it’s kids – about six years old – encountering heart problems and neurological symptoms after consuming energy drinks unintentionally.

READ MORE: Caffeine common for kids, even preschoolers

Energy drinks contain pharmaceutical-grade caffeine and additional caffeine from natural sources that may explain why the kids’ hearts race and their blood pressure levels climb.

If the energy drinks had multiple sources of caffeine, the risk of side effects increased too.

Some energy drinks contain up to 400 milligrams of caffeine in a can or bottle – a cup of coffee contains about 150 mgs in comparison.

World Health Organization officials are concerned with the beverage because it can be consumed quickly, unlike hot coffee, and can lead to caffeine intoxication.

READ MORE: Does your teen drink energy drinks and play sports? New warning from scientists about brain injuries

Aside from heart palpitations, the WHO review pointed to nausea, vomiting, convulsions and even death, which has been reported in the U.S., Sweden and Australia.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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