Caffeine & Teenagers

By Ella Ditraglia & Sara Gomez

A study from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior has found that 83.2% of teenagers consume caffeine regularly and that 96% consume it occasionally. But is that really true? Are teenagers as caffeine-crazed as the media and ambiguous studies may suggest? There is one place to find out, and that is high school. We surveyed 10 students, as we do every issue. This week we decided to ask students this question: “How much caffeine do you drink?” This includes tea, coffee, and soda. We received an array of answers, some surprising and some not as much.

Contrary to what the study may have suggested, there are teenagers out there who choose not to drink any caffeine. Riley Sullivan, a freshman says, “I don’t drink coffee, but I drink decaffeinated tea.” Students like Riley have found alternatives to caffeine. Riley in particular like decaffeinated green tea. Billy Tuttle, a freshman as well, also does not drink caffeinated beverages. He says, “I never drink anything with caffeine.” Billy has chosen not to participate in a caffeinated lifestyle. Other students were not as elaborate. When asked how much caffeine he drinks, Cooper Varone simply answered: “None.” Upon hearing Cooper’s answer, Brady Watson spoke next. “None,” he said. “I don’t even like coffee.” So, some kids stay away from caffeine simply because they don’t like the taste of the type of drinks it’s present in.

In fact, out of the ten kids that were surveyed, six of them reported that they do not drink anything with caffeine. That is obviously the majority, but barely. A few students expressed that they do not need to be more hyper than they already are. Some need more sleep. Others gave no reason, such as Jacob Connolly. When asked how much caffeine he drinks, he responded, “Zero.”  Perhaps parental rules play a role, or personal morals. Georgia Wood is in the same boat as Jacob. She says, “I don’t drink any.” Based on these results, we can assume that many teenagers at EGHS tend to stay away from caffeine in drinks.

On the other hand, out of the ten students that were interviewed, four responded in favor of drinking caffeinated beverages. For this handful of teenagers, coffee is most preferred over its alternatives. Andrew Beaudoin, explained his caffeine intake when asked by saying, “Two a day, mostly coffee.” Through the remaining interviews, it was determined that for those who drink coffee, it is their daily ritual. Both Evie Clement and Lola Verret drink one cup of coffee every morning before heading off to school. For some students, their caffeine intake comes in the form of soda. This is true for Jack Whitney who answered with, “No coffee, but I drink soda three times a week,” when asked.

The pairing of high school teens and caffeine is nothing short of a heavily debated topic. On one hand, as explained by Sarah Jones and shown through various studies, caffeine in moderate amounts is beneficial to students. It is said to increase their cognitive function and improve their attention span, both of which are useful in school. Additionally, drinking coffee or tea earlier in the day may increase your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night as well as help keep students stay awake and alert during their classes.

On the other side of the debate, caffeine is said to cause more harm than good by Magnus Health. Because caffeine is a drug, it comes with side effects that range from increased blood pressure and nervousness to nausea and headaches. The effects of caffeine vary among each person, but it takes a smaller amount to cause negative effects in teens. Additionally, due to the workload that comes hand-in-hand with high school, many teens use caffeine to keep them up at night, decreasing the amount of sleep they get. This lack of sleep diminishes any positive effects that come with caffeine.

This same division on thoughts around caffeine is found at our very own school. The sample of students seem to be almost divided on caffeine consumption. Some students prefer to drink it to get a kick start on their day, while others have decided not to hop on the caffeine machine. Whatever your choice, make sure to stay healthy and in the know about the effects of caffeine.

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