PhotoEnergy drinks are highly popular, especially with young people who never quite acquired the taste for coffee.

Two researchers at Texas Tech suspected that high-powered marketing aimed at young people – young men in particular – had more to do with it. They set up a research study to measure how young men are influenced by energy drink marketing and what effects it has on their health.

One of the researchers, Mike Parent, an assistant professor of counseling in Texas Tech’s Department of Psychological Sciences, says the marketing campaigns all have a common theme – action.

“Men watch media ads about energy drinks in which they’re connected with a hypermasculine lifestyle – extreme sports, etc.,” Parent said. “The men don’t really pursue the same kind of lifestyle, but the marketing works – the energy drinks make them feel more connected to that sort of a life. So, the attitudes and energy drink usage interact.”

Common thread

The study found a common thread. Men who bought into the media messages were more likely to use energy drinks, and the more energy drinks the men had, the more they reported trouble sleeping.

The people most likely to be influenced by energy drink marketing were younger white men. Older men were less likely to associate masculine ideology with a caffeine-filled beverage. Racial minorities were influenced to a degree, but it didn't translate into energy drink use.

Parent says consumers need a better understanding of energy drinks. “Currently, there is little labeling of things like basic actual caffeine content of these sorts of drinks,” he said. “Many men might be drinking them, thinking it’s the ‘alpha male energizing complex,’ or whatever, that is giving them energy – but it’s just caffeine.”

Overlooked caffeine

Parent said he began to notice the trend when many males students began showing up for counseling, complaining of insomnia. He said they were largely unaware that they were drinking enormous amounts of caffeine daily.

As we reported earlier this year, ingredients such as guarana, ginseng, and taurine have caffeine concentrations that are equal to, or higher than, caffeine found in coffee. Ingesting high doses of any of these substances can be very dangerous.

An international research team, led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, concluded that energy drinks are the cause of many sudden cardiac deaths in young, healthy individuals.  

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