Caffeinated Energy Drinks (EDs) are purported to increase energy and improve performance, but have been associated with adverse health effects and death. EDs are popular among adolescents and young adults, yet little is known about their use among young adolescents. This study explored perceptions, patterns, and contexts of ED use in six focus groups with 40 adolescents aged 12-15 years from two regional Australian schools. A thematic analysis of the data was used to investigate knowledge about ED brands and content, ED use, reasons for ED use, physiological effects, and influences on ED use. Participants were familiar with EDs and most had used them at least once but had limited knowledge of ED ingredients, and some had difficulty differentiating them from soft and sports drinks. EDs 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. Parents and advertising influenced participants' perceptions and use of EDs. 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. Further research is needed to replicate and extend the current findings, informed by the lessons learned in alcohol research.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: A growing evidence base demonstrates the negative health outcomes associated with the consumption of energy drinks (ED) and alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMED), especially among young people. Work to date has focused on the physiological effects of ED and AMED use and the motivations associated with consumption, typically among college students. The present study adopted an exploratory, qualitative approach with a community sample of 18-21 year olds to identify relevant barriers, motivators, and facilitators to AMED use and to explicate the decision-making processes involved. The sensitisation method was used to collect data from a cohort of 60 young adult drinkers over a period of six months via individual interviews, focus groups, and introspections. The findings indicate that there may be a general understanding of the negative consequences of AMED use, and that these consequences can constitute barriers that serve to discourage frequent consumption among young people. This outcome suggests the potential application of positive deviance and social norms approaches in interventions designed to reduce AMED use among this population segment. The results are promising in the identification of a large number of concerns among young adults relating to AMED use. These concerns can constitute the focus of future communications with this target group. The results are likely to have relevance to other countries, such as the US and the UK, that share similar alcohol cultures and where energy drinks have achieved comparable market penetration rates.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Background Despite concern regarding harms of energy drink (ED) consumption, no research has been conducted to determine awareness and compliance with ED intake guidelines displayed on product packaging in Australia (a novel approach internationally). Methods A convenience sample of 1922 people completed an online survey. Participants reported their knowledge of maximum recommended daily ED intake according to Australian guidelines. Results Guideline awareness was reported by 38, 23 and 19 % of past year consumers, lifetime, and non-consumers, respectively. Amongst past year consumers, ‘accurate estimators’ reported greater ED intake and were more likely to exceed intake guidelines and consume alcohol mixed with ED (AmED). After controlling for demographics and frequency of use, guideline awareness predicted increased likelihood of exceeding guidelines in ED sessions, but was not associated with exceeding ED guidelines in AmED sessions. Conclusions Australia is considered to have the most stringent regulatory approach to EDs internationally. However, advisory statements are not associated with greater awareness and compliance with intake guidelines. Failure to comply with standards for efficacious product labelling, and absence of broader education regarding guidelines, needs to be addressed.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · BMC Public Health