Teens love soda and other high sugar drinks but a recent study has shed light on energy drinks linked to unhealthy behaviors in teens.

More than a third of teens reported drinking sports drinks at least once a week, according to a new study.  Consumption of sports drinks has been linked to unhealthy behaviors, including smoking, drinking more sugary drinks, and spending more time playing video games and watching television.

Energy Drinks Linked to Unhealthy Behaviors in Teens

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Sports drinks were also linked to increased physical activity.  Researchers note that sports drinks are recommended for teens only after prolonged physical activity, such as participation in sports.  Energy drinks are not recommended for teens at all, and should be avoided.

This research was led by Nicole Larson, PhD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Dr. Larson and colleagues looked at data from the Eating and Activity in Teens (EAT 2010) study, which included 2,793 adolescents who completed surveys and had anthropometric measures (testing for body fat composition) during the 2009-2010 school year. These students were all from public middle and high schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The average age of the students was 14.4 years.

These students answered 235 items on a questionnaire. All of the students were asked questions about lifestyle factors, such as how often they ate breakfast, what they liked to drink and how often, their level of physical activity and their sleeping patterns.

Overall, sports drinks, such as Gatorade, were consumed at least once a week by 37.9 percent of the students. Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, were consumed once a week by 14.7 percent of students.

Energy Drinks Linked to Unhealthy Behaviors in Teens

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Boys were more likely than girls to regularly drink sports drinks (44.9 percent versus 31.6 percent). Boys were also more likely than girls to drink energy drinks (17.1 percent versus 12.5 percent).

Consumption of either drink type was associated with more unhealthy behaviors. For example, boys who regularly consumed sports drinks spent about one additional hour per week watching TV, compared with boys who consumed sports drinks less than once per week. Furthermore, boys who regularly consumed energy drinks spent approximately four additional hours playing video games compared to those who consumed energy drinks less than once per week.

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