ENERGY DRINKS: FRIEND OR ENEMY?

In Arts & Life /

By Nicole Clark

Eric Reid has vomited every morning since frosh week. It’s not a perpetual hangover, but rather an over consumption of energy drinks that has lead to some serious medical problems. “It’s just normal throwing up,” said Reid. “I’m addicted to energy drinks, even with the health problems.”

Reid, first-year architecture student, started drinking energy drinks three years ago because he liked the taste and found them to be popular with his friends. Before he started puking daily, Reid drank an average of one energy drink every two days. “I knew the risks but I didn’t think they would be that severe. I didn’t know [energy drinks] would cause long-term problems,” he said.

In December, 80 per cent of Swedish school nurses rallied to impose an age limit on Red Bull and other energy drinks. Due to health concerns, Red Bull has restrictions in France and is banned in Norway and Denmark.

A 250 ml can of Red Bull contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee along with amino acid taurine, a synthetic substance produced by pharmaceutical companies. These are two aspects that contribute to the side effects energy drinks can cause including exhaustion, increased heart rate and stress.

Su-Ting Teo, the director of student health and wellness at Ryerson, has noticed the increased popularity of energy drinks on campus especially in conjunction with alcohol. “Both caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body,” she said. “Taken together in large amounts can cause severe dehydration.”

Will Campbell, a first-year business student, drinks an average of one energy drink a week and follows the recommended guidelines. “The only reason why I don’t drink [energy drinks] frequently is because I fear I would become reliant on them as my main source of energy,” said Campbell. Sean Carson, residence council president, notices that students use energy drinks to keep them awake. “I see a lot of people drinking energy drinks around exams.”

Carson thinks energy drinks are popular on campus because they are readily available in vending machines.

Additionally, companies such as Red Bull give out free samples of the product in exchange for publicity. Like last year, when Red Bull donated cases of their product for a party in residence. The students loved it. “Until there is health concern issued by health authorities, I don’t think it is necessary to put an age restriction on energy drinks,” said Carson.

Reid also believes that age restrictions on energy drinks will be unsuccessful. “Its a good idea in theory but I don’t think anyone will follow it,” he said. “It’s just like alcohol, if people want it that bad they will find a way to get it.”

Despite his stomach problems related to having too much sugar in his body, Reid continues to consume energy drinks. He admits to drinking a lot around exam time or while studying.

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