Caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means that it causes a person to urinate slightly more than usual. Most people will probably not notice the difference. Still, in hot weather or during longer workouts or sports practices or games, it is a good idea not to eat or drink too much food with caffeine. Some people maintain that caffeine triggers migraines; others contend that the consumption of caffeine during the early stages of a migraine stops the progression of the disorder. Caffeine causes the body to lose calcium, and, over time, that may result in bone loss. Caffeine has also been known to exacerbate certain heart problems. 1
For teens, energy drinks are a frequent source of caffeine. Energy drinks, which contain between 50 and 500 mg of caffeine per can, have become very popular. In a 2015 study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, researchers from Ontario, Canada, wanted to determine the rates of energy drink use among secondary school students. The cohort consisted of 23,610 secondary students in Ontario. The researchers determined that nearly one in five of the students reported consuming an energy drink at least once a week. Of those who reported consuming energy drinks, the majority consumed energy drinks one or two days per week. However, 1 in 10 consumed energy drinks six or seven days each week. Males were more likely than females to use energy drinks. The researchers commented that their findings found that “Regular use of energy drinks was common among this sample of students.” 2
In a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Adolescence, researchers from Ireland and Iceland wanted to learn more about the association between the use of caffeine by teens and academic achievement. The researchers noted that, on a typical day, about 75 percent of adolescent teens consume one or more beverages containing caffeine. The cohort consisted of 7,377 Icelandic teens, who were surveyed on several topics including caffeine use. While their primary source of caffeine was cola drinks, their second source was energy drinks. Caffeine appeared to have an independent negative effect on academic achievement. The researchers said that this finding “runs counter to popular beliefs that caffeine had performance-enhancing properties.” The researchers wondered if the poorer functioning could be explained by symptoms of caffeine withdrawal such as sleepiness, lethargy, lack of attention, and decreased cognitive performance. “Improvements in performance following caffeine consumption [could be ] explained by reversal of such withdrawal effects.” 4
In a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers from the United Kingdom examined the association between the consumption of caffeine by secondary school teens and self-assessed stress, anxiety, and depression. They used cross-sectional data from the Cornish Academies Project, a large-scale longitudinal program of research on school performance, general health, and stress, anxiety, and depression in secondary school students from the southwest of England. The researchers found that the consumption of coffee was the “major contributor” to the teens’ overall intake of caffeine. Initially, the researchers found associations between caffeine consumption and stress, anxiety, and depression. After further testing, the association between caffeine consumption and stress disappeared. And, the testing found that males and females had different response levels. For example, at the multivariate level, the consumption of caffeine was associated with anxiety in males but not females. In addition, though there was an association between caffeine intake and depression in males and females, the threshold for appearing was lower in males than in females. The researchers commented that their findings may “be a concern for public health and school policy.” 6
In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers from Buffalo, New York, investigated the effect energy drink pricing and labeling have on sales. Does increasing the price lower the chances that a teen will purchase an energy drink? Does providing more information on the label have a similar effect? The cohort consisted of 36 (18 males and 18 females) participants between the ages of 15 and 30 years with an average age of 20.4 years. They were all classified as energy drink consumers (drinking more than two energy drinks per week) or nonconsumers (drinking less than one energy drink per month). The participants visited a laboratory-based convenience store three times. In between visits, prices and labeling were altered. The researchers found that increasing the price of the energy drinks decreased the rates in which they were purchased. When the price was increased by 100 percent, no one who regularly used these drinks purchased them. “This suggests that ED [energy drink] consumers are sensitive to price manipulations and that increasing the price of these drinks may decrease ED purchasing among youth.” When the price rose, adolescent consumers purchased other caffeinated products. Moreover, when the labels contained warnings about caffeine content, teens appeared to reduce their intake. The researchers commented that their findings “have implications for potential regulations that may discourage ED purchasing, especially among adolescents.” 8
1. The Nemours Foundation, www.kidshealth.org.
2. J. L. Reid, D. Hammond, C. McCrory et al., “Use of Caffeinated Energy Drinks Among Secondary School Students in Ontario: Prevalence and Correlates of Using Energy Drinks and Mixing With Alcohol,” Canadian Journal of Public Health 106, no. 3 (2015): e101-e108.
3. Andrina Aepli, Salome Kurth, Noemi Tesler et al., “Caffeine Consuming Children and Adolescents Show Altered Sleep Behavior and Deep Sleep,” Brain Sciences 5 (2015): 441-55.
4. Jack E. James, Álfgeir Logi Kristjánsson, and Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, “Adolescent Substance Use, Sleep, and Academic Achievement: Evidence of Harm Due to Caffeine,” Journal of Adolescence 34 (2011): 665-73.
5. Amelia M. Arria, Kimberly M. Caldeira, Sarah J. Kasperski et al., “Energy Drink Consumption and Increased Risk for Alcohol Dependence,” Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 35, no. 2 (2011): 365-75.
6. Gareth Richards and Andrew Smith. “Caffeine Consumption and Self-Assessed Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Secondary School Children,” Journal of Psychopharmacology 29, no. 12 (2015): 1236-47.
7. Keith A. Wesnes, Marilyn L. Barrett, and Jay K. Udani, “An Evaluation of the Cognitive and Mood Effects of An Energy Shot Over a 6h Period in Volunteers. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled, Cross-Over Study,” Appetite 67 (2013): 105-13.
8. Jennifer L. Temple, Amanda M. Ziegler, and Leonard H. Epstein, “Influence of Price and Labeling on Energy Drink Purchasing in an Experimental Convenience Store,” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 48, no. 7 (2016): 54-59e1.
Aepli, Andrina, Salome Kurth, Noemi Tesler et al. “Caffeine Consuming Children and Adolescents Show Altered Sleep Behavior and Deep Sleep.” Brain Sciences 5 (2015): 441-55.
Arria, Amelia M., Kimberly M. Caldeira, Sarah J. Kasperski et al. “Energy Drink Consumption and Increased Risk for Alcohol Dependence.” Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 35, no. 2 (2011): 365-75.
Beckford, Kelsey, Carley A. Grimes, and Lynn J. Riddell. “Australian Children’s Consumption of Caffeinate, Formulated Beverages: A Cross-Sectional Analysis.” BMC Public Health 15 (2015): 70.
Ibrahim, N. K., and R. Iftikhar. “Energy Drinks: Getting Wings but at What Health Cost?” Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences 30, no. 6 (2014): 1415-19.
James, Jack E., Álfgeir Logi Kristjánsson, and Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. “Adolescent Substance Use, Sleep, and Academic Achievement: Evidence of Harm Due to Caffeine.” Journal of Adolescence 34 (2011): 665-73.
Miyake, E. R., and N. R. Marmorstein. “Energy Drink Consumption and Later Alcohol Use Among Early Adolescents.” Addictive Behavior 43 (2015): 60-65.
Reid, J. L., D. Hammond, C. McCrory et al. “Use of Caffeinated Energy Drinks Among Secondary School Students in Ontario: Prevalence and Correlates of Using Energy Drinks and Mixing With Alcohol.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 106, no. 3 (2015): e101-e108.
Richards, Gareth, and Andrew Smith. “Caffeine Consumption and Self-Assessed Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Secondary School Children.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 29, no. 12 (2015): 1236-47.
Temple, Jennifer L., Amanda M. Ziegler, and Leonard H. Epstein. “Influence of Price and Labeling on Energy Drink Purchasing in An Experimental Convenience Store.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 48, no. 2 (2016): 54-59e1.
Wesnes, Keith A., Marilyn L. Barrett, and Jay K. Udani. 2013. “An Evaluation of the Cognitive and Mood Effects of An Energy Shot Over a 6h Period in Volunteers. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled, Cross-Over Study.” Appetite 67 (2013): 105-13.
Psychology Today. www.psychologytoday.com .
The Nemours Foundation. www.kidshealth.org .