Teens, soft drinks, energy drinks, and substance abuse

Posted 03/05/2014 | By HealthCorps

Current statistics suggest that nearly one-third of teens consume energy drinks or shots, and these teens also report higher rates of alcohol, cigarette and /or drug use.  The new report discusses how the same characteristics that attract teens to energy drinks, “sensation-seeking or risk-taking,” make them more likely to try other substances like drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.

The study looked at almost 22,000 eight, tenth and twelfth graders, participants in the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study.  The kids all responded to questionnaires, and results showed that about 30% of teens reported using either caffeine-containing energy drinks or shots.  More than 40% of the teens reported drinking soft drinks on a regular basis, while about 20% said they had soft drinks every day.

Boys used energy drinks more than girls; use was higher in one parent homes and homes where parents had less formal education.  Use was highest among the eight graders.  Use of cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs directly correlated to those who regularly consumed caffeine-containing soft drinks and energy drinks, with a stronger correlation to the energy drink consumption.

So parents and educators should consider spending some time discussing the health implications of consuming caffeine in high amounts, and how it can correlate to more dangerous habits and behaviors.

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