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Ellie Doering / Gavel Media

The Rise of Energy Drinks

I rarely go through my day without any caffeine; however, I am far from being the only one. The consumption of multiple caffeinated beverages a day is normalized in college. Late-night studying, midterm papers, and going to the gym all act as excuses to grab a quick fix of caffeine. I normally go for a latte; however, a large portion of the campus population chooses to drink energy drinks. 

Energy drinks are rapidly rising in popularity, specifically increasing in the past twenty years for teenagers and young adults. When compared to coffee, which contains about 95 mg of caffeine per serving, energy drinks double and even triple the amount. Monster Energy contains 160 mg per can, Celsius contains 200 mg, and Bang Energy contains around 300 mg. The amount of caffeine does not factor in the abundance of sugar in the beverages which contributes to the addictive and stimulating effects.

While the addictive properties result in a costly habit, the dangers of energy drink consumption are numerous. Affecting cardiovascular health and the nervous system, there have been several reported cases of cardiac arrest due to the consumption of energy drinks. Additionally, the effects of legal stimulants used in energy drinks, such as guarana and taurine, are not fully understood. Although energy drinks often market themselves to be a healthy option, there is a large amount of information that is not known.

Dunkin Donuts’ Sparkd’ Energy is the newest addition to the long list of caffeinated drinks available for purchase. Marketed as healthier than its competitors, the drink claims to be full of vitamins and minerals; however, factoring in the 192 mg of caffeine and 37 g of sugar, the drink is far from healthy. This advertising is reminiscent of Panera’s Charged Lemonade. Even the names Sparkd’ and Charged resemble each other. When I heard of Dunkin’s new drink, it reminded me of the recent headlines surrounding deaths related to Panera’s lemonade. This past December, a lawsuit was filed, blaming Panera for a second death due to the Charged Lemonade’s caffeine content. Failing to warn consumers about ingredients such as guarana extract, Panera initially stated that the Charged Lemonade had as much caffeine as their dark roast coffee. This claim was later found to be false because the Charged Lemonade had 390 mg of caffeine and 30 teaspoons of sugar for a 30-ounce drink, only 10 mg under the FDA’s daily limit of caffeine. 

The marketing of energy drinks is also extremely dangerous as it tends to target younger populations. I can name numerous influencers off the top of my head who own energy drink companies, such as Logan Paul, KSI, and Josh Richards. This leads to the marketing of caffeinated drinks without the knowledge of parents and adults. The dangers increase as the drinks are often advertised to be used during workouts and sports; however, the hazardous cardiovascular effects of caffeine can amplify when paired with elevated blood pressure. 

The increased consumption of energy drinks by teenagers results in an increased consumption in college, a reality I am observing right now. College students have learned to rely on caffeine to be more productive, more focused, and more geared towards working in a capitalistic society. We can more easily fit into the capitalistic system when we become the consumers of an addictive stimulant. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the increased use of caffeine and why this use happened in the first place.

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