A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

Students + Energy Drinks = Risky Behavior

In College, Education on June 11, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Go to any college campus and one can easily find a student carrying one of those trendy energy drinks: Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster Energy, etc. Hell, I went to a new media forum this past weekend and they had a case of Red Bull on ice. At a professional forum? I have to admit that for a moment I thought that they were trying to send a subliminal message about how interesting the forum would be; hence, the need for energy drinks. Needless to say, my coffee worked just fine and there was no need for sugar and caloric overload.

James Heggen of Inside Higher Ed has an article today about a study done recently from The Journal of American College Health in which their research shows a correlation between students who drink energy drinks and the risky behavior that they partake in.

From his article:

Of the 795 public university undergraduate students who were surveyed, 39 percent reported drinking at least one energy drink in the last month, and 26 percent had consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol at least once (about half had done so more than once). But of students who scored highly on the risk-taking scale, 49 percent had consumed energy drinks, and 39 percent had mixed energy drinks and alcohol.

The findings emerged from a larger study of “toxic jock identity,” which is characterized by “sport-related identity, masculinity and risk taking,” according to the report. Kathleen Miller, the report’s author and a research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said she included a question on energy drinks because she had observed individuals with this type of behavior consuming energy drinks.

Miller called energy drinks and risk taking behavior a “natural fit.” Energy drinks are marketed to people who engage in “extreme sports” and other types of risky behavior, and the physical rush associated with the drinks appeals to risk takers, she said. Miller clearly notes, though, that while energy drinks may signify risk taking behavior, there is no evidence that the drinks actually cause such behavior.

Experts on college health say the study raises intriguing issues, but they are divided on whether Miller’s findings resonate with what they see on campuses.

Ok, agreement here. For some reason I don’t see students hanging off of their dorm railings with a Red Bull in hand or streaking through the quad while pumped up on Monster Energy. Can you just see John Belushi chanting, “Toga, Toga, Toga!” with a Rockstar in his hand? I think the key here is that these drinks would have to be mixed with some sort of distilled spirits to make you act like an idiot.

The only risky behavior I see is from this Red Bull commercial about a male college student (who should be studying) and female student who is feeling quite amorous. Notice that he actually grabs a handful of something after he turns the light back on. That’s what Red Bull will do for ya!

Can anyone tell me what the fascination is anyway with these energy drinks? I’ve never had the slightest inkling to even try one.

  1. I admit I drank a 6-pack during this past term for finals. When you only have one study day (whereas most universities have more than just one day) you do not have time to study for every final. So, Red Bull helps keep us awake on the all-nighters we, as college students, have to undergo to get that 80,000.00 piece of paper from UST.

    Coffee does nothing for me. I only drink Red Bulls around Final Exams for the same fact that so much needs to be done in such little time. (Most of us are drained from writing research papers that are due a couple days before Finals anyways)

    …. Ok, I’m off my soapbox now!

  2. I read up on Red Bull drinks. First of all, they should NEVER be mixed with alcohol. In Europe, people who did that actually died! Secondly, they are dangerous because they dehydrate the body in a way similar to caffeine. For jocks, this is really bad because if they are drinking Red Bull to get hyped up before and during a game, they could actually dehydrate themselves enough to put strain on the heart. Some young, highly athletic and fit young people have been known to experience heart attack symptoms that are correlated to drinking Red Bull. Also, apparently there is a particular chemical in the drinks that are so far allowed by the Food and Drug Association, but that do not have very many studies as to the effect of mixing the particular chemical with other things. Scary! A young middle school girl I knew was obsessed with Red Bull, and I told her these things. She basically used it in the way adults would abuse caffeine. She liked it because it boosted her already hyper tendencies–she usually received encouragement from her friends, who would joke about her hyperactivity and fast-talking.

  3. Amayala,

    I have to totally agree with you about not mixing the two together. I remember some evening news show doing the same kind of news story, focusing on the hazards of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Thanks for the comment!

    ~T

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