Photo by V. Miller
March 26, 2008
Performance Drink Peril
Energy Drinks in Teenagers: Performance, Peril or Placebo?A Blinded Crossover Clinical Study
Colleen Cambier, 14, Palm Harbor, Fla.
Finalist, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2007
Project background: Colleen observed that "energy drinks" are widely marketed to young people as performance enhancers. However, little data supports this claim. She noted that energy drinks often contain caffeine, whereas other sports drinks don't. Colleen hypothesized that teens consuming energy drinks would experience changes in heart rate, blood pressure, concentration, and sense of well being, but teens consuming other sports drinks would not experience these effects.
Tactics and results: Colleen recruited 13 girls and 8 boys, ages 13 to 15, for her study. After parental consent was given, the volunteers drank from an unmarked cup containing either an energy drink or a caffeine-free, low-calorie sports drink. For an hour after each drink, she conducted various tests on the volunteers. On another day, she gave each participant a different drink and repeated the tests.
Photo by V. Miller
Colleen found significantly higher heart rates and systolic blood pressures in participants after they ingested beverages with caffeine compared with their scores after they received the caffeine-free drink. The volunteers were also more jittery and out of sorts after drinking beverages with caffeine. Memory tests using flash cards showed no difference.
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