Energy Drink Ingredients are a Mystery to Most Teens

energy drinks

According to a new study, most teens have ‘limited knowledge’ of energy drink ingredients and had difficulty telling them apart from soft and sports drinks.

According to a new study by Beth M Costa, Alexa Hayley and Peter Miller of Deakin University in Australia entitled Young adolescents’ perceptions, patterns, and contexts of energy drink use: A focus group study, most teens have limited knowledge of energy drink ingredients and had difficulty differentiating them from soft and sports drinks.

The new study looked at the perceptions, patterns and contexts of energy drinks use in six focus groups with 40 adolescents aged 12-15 years old. A thematic analysis of the data was used to investigate knowledge about energy drink brands and content, energy drink use, reasons for energy drink use, physiological effects, and influences on energy drink use.  The study found that energy drinks were used as an alternative to other drinks, to provide energy, and in social contexts and their use was associated with short-term physiological symptoms. It was also found  that parents and advertising influenced participants’ perceptions and use of energy drinks.
These findings suggest young adolescents use EDs without knowing what they are drinking and how they are contributing to their personal risk of harm. The advertising, appeal, and use of EDs by adolescents appears to share similarities with alcohol and tobacco. 
As we all know, caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster are marketed to (and popular with) teens and young adults with promises of increased energy and improved performance.  What most teens don’t know is that energy drinks have been associated with physiological (i.e., heart palpitations, sleep difficulties, agitation, tremors and increased speech speed) and psychological (i.e., irritability and tension) side effects as well as a host of risks associated with energy drinks mixed with alcohol (which is common). 


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About the Author

is a former marketing consultant who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn her hand to creative non-fiction. Jennifer continues to write about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - follow her on and .