Energy drinks cause a buzz on campus

At one time, coffee seemed to be the main beverage of choice for college students seeking an energy boost.

Over the past few years, however, energy drinks have emerged as a popular alternative – one that St. John’s students say has replaced their need for a cup of Joe.

“I have been drinking energy drinks for about two years now and I drink one every morning to give me energy for the rest of the day,” said senior Kaity Martinez. “These drinks are my coffee.”

Sophomore Kelli Seegopaul, another avid consumer of energy drinks, said the beverage has become an important part of her day.

“Energy drinks help me to stay awake for work, school and any other event I need to stay up for,” she said. “Since I started having late classes last year, I decided to try energy drinks.”

But could it be possible that energy drinks could be working more against students than for them? Some experts say yes.

“Personally and professionally, I advise against drinking them,” said Mary Ellen Bingham, St. John’s dietician and sports nutritionist. “Too much caffeine can interfere with mental focus, often causing individuals to become jittery and more anxious.”
She also mentioned that excessive use of energy drinks could disturb sleeping patterns.

Officials from Chartwells, St. John’s food service provider, said although they offer Full Throttle, Rockstar and Nos brand energy drinks to be purchased by students on campus, they do not promote the consumption of the beverages.

“We believe in a healthy and balanced diet, which includes good hydration with, preferably, water,” said Edward Taraskewich, resident district manager of Chartwells. “We encourage students to make their own choices, which is why we offer a wide range of drinks on campus.

“We continue to sell energy drinks because there is a market for it and students ask for it,” he said.

Taraskewich added that despite a market for them on campus, energy drinks do not make up a large portion of weekly sales.
“We sell no more than 120 units per week,” he said.

According to Gina Capetanakis, Chartwells marketing manager, the most popular beverages on campus are coffee, soda and water with sales of 24 percent, 21 percent and 14 percent, respectively, per week.

Instead of using energy drinks, Bingham said students should look for more nourishing alternatives to helping them get through the day.

“The better way to improve your energy level is to adapt healthier habits,” she said. “Eat a balanced diet with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairies and healthy fats.”

Bingham also said students should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night and hydrate throughout the day with water.
But despite their popularity, some students said they are wary of the side effects.

“When I have an energy drink, I get all the energy I want, but without it, my body feels lousy,” said sophomore Rene Cousins. “I don’t want to become too dependent on them.”