Published on February 5, 2014 at 1:36 AM
In young adults, energy drinks have been linked to behavioral patterns of "sensation-seeking or risk orientation." Energy drinks are often used together with alcohol, which may "mask" the intoxicating effects of alcohol. The new study is one of the first to look at consumption of energy drinks by US adolescents, and how they may be related to other types of substance use.
"The current study indicates that adolescent consumption of energy drinks/shots is widespread and that energy drink users also report heightened risk for substance use," Terry-McElrath and colleagues write. They emphasize that their study provides no cause-and-effect data showing that energy drinks lead to substance abuse in teens.
However, the researchers believe that the findings linking energy drinks to substance use in young adults are likely relevant to adolescents as well. They write, "[E]ducation for parents and prevention efforts among adolescents should include education on the masking effects of caffeine in energy drinks on alcohol- and other substance-related impairments, and recognition that some groups (such as high sensation-seeking youth) may be particularly likely to consume energy drinks and to be substance users."
Even without the possible link to substance use, Terry-McElrath and coauthors note that, with their high caffeine and sugar content, energy drinks and shots aren't a good dietary choice for teens. They cite a recent American Academy of Pediatrics report stating that "[C]affeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents."
Source: Wolters Kluwer Health