Consumption of Energy Drinks, Alcohol, and Alcohol-Mixed Energy Drinks Among Italian Adolescents

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Abstract

Background:

It has been argued that the excessive consumption of energy drinks (EDs) may have serious health consequences, and that may serve as an indicator for substance use and other risky behaviors. The present paper offers a perspective on this topic that remains underexplored on the population of adolescents.

Methods:

Data were collected via self-administered anonymous questionnaires from 870 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years who were recruited from a random sample of public secondary schools in the geographic area of the Calabria Region, in the South of Italy.

Results:

A total of 616 participants completed the survey for a response rate of 70.8%. Nearly 68% of respondents had drunk at least a whole can of ED during their life, and about 55% reported consuming EDs during the 30 days before the survey. Only 13% of interviewed adolescents were aware that drinking EDs is the same as drinking coffee, whereas a sizable percentage believed that drinking EDs is the same as drinking carbonated beverages or rehydrating sport drinks. Forty-six percent of adolescents had drunk alcohol-mixed energy drinks (AmEDs) during their life, and 63% of lifetime users admitted drinking AmEDs during the 30 days before the survey. Overall, 210 (63.3%) had drunk alcohol alone not mixed with EDs during their life, and more than half (56.3%) reported having consumed it at least once during the 30 days before the survey. Multivariate analysis showed that the factors independently associated with the consumption of AmEDs were the increasing number of sexual partners, being a current smoker, being male, riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, and having used marijuana.

Conclusions:

Comprehensive educational programs among youths focusing on potential health effects of EDs, alcohol, and the combination of the two, designed to empower the ability to manage these drinking habits, are strongly advisable.

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