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Guzzling Energy Drinks Linked to Other Bad Behavior

May 08, 2014 03:33 PM EDT
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Teens who regularly guzzle energy and sports drinks are more likely to consume other sugary drinks, smoke cigarettes and spend more time in front of their favorite screens, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by University of Minnesota and Duke University researchers, found that more than a third of the 2,793 teens surveyed consumed sports drinks and nearly 15 percent consumed energy drinks at least once a week, The Huffington Post reported.

Sports and energy drink consumption has tripled among teens in recent years, according to the research, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Researchers specifically questioned teens about throwing back sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade and energy drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar.

For both boys and girls, sports and energy drinks were a gateway to a cluster of other unhealthy behavior, such as spending more time in front of the television and playing video games.

"Among boys, weekly sports drink consumption was significantly associated with higher TV viewing; boys who regularly consumed sports drinks spent about one additional hour per week watching TV compared with boys who consumed sports drinks less than once per week," lead author Nicole Larson said in a statement.

Adolescents who consumed sports drinks weekly were also more physically active and more likely to participate in organized sports, but the authors say based on their workouts, sports drinks don't effectively quench their thirst or replenish fluids.

"Really, sports drinks are only needed for kids who participate in vigorous physical activity in hot, humid weather. Otherwise, if they're being consumed all the time they could be contributing to excess weight gain and tooth decay," Larson told HealthDay.

And though they may provide a tasty energy boost, energy drinks may overstimulate the nervous system of teens, since their caffeine doses are made with adult body masses in mind, The Huffington Post wrote.

The findings don't conclusively prove that sport and energy drink consumption causes other negative behavior, but it certainly paves the way for more exhilarating means of stimulation for young adults.

"You get sensitized on high doses of caffeine and suddenly other stimulants like nicotine from cigarettes are perhaps more appealing," Cecile Marczinski, an associate professor of psychological science at Northern Kentucky University who was not involved in this study, told HealthDay.

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