Students warned to resist high-sugar/ caffeine energy drinks during exams

24 October 2016

With many students already in the midst of end of year exams, the Rethink Sugary Drinks alliance, which includes the Australian Dental Association, has cautioned against them using highly-caffeinated energy drinks to keep awake and alert during what can be a stressful period. 

Tempting though it is to reach for a can of Red Bull or V to fuel a study period, the reality is that these drinks, which contain a staggering 21 teaspoons of sugar and as much caffeine as two and half espresso shots, are all short-term buzz with no worthwhile long-term gain. 

In fact, consumers of these high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks often find their concentration and energy levels wain right when they need it, imperiling rather than aiding their exam preparations.  

Australian Dental Association’s Oral Health Committee Chair, Dr. Peter Alldritt, said energy drinks are also a major contributing factor to tooth decay and tooth erosion. 
“Sipping slowly and constantly on energy drinks during a study session is a disaster for teeth. With every sip, you are exposing your teeth to another attack of acid and sugar – this is a recipe for tooth damage,” Dr. Alldritt said. 

Additionally, they risk weight gain and obesity as well as seriously increasing their chances of developing heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

With sales of energy drinks on the rise – consumption jumped from 34.5 million litres in 2001 to 155.6 million litres in 2011 – and companies assiduously marketing to students and other young people the supposed benefits of downing these drinks, the Rethink Sugary Drinks alliance is working hard to convince young people there is a healthier alternative. 

As part of its campaign calling for a public education campaign by Australian governments, tougher restrictions on the sale of soft drinks at schools and sports centres, and 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks, the alliance recommends that students try the following instead of reaching for a sugary drink. 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast such as oats, natural yoghurt and fruit, or two eggs on toast. 
  • Get plenty of fresh air by going for a walk outside or visiting a friend.  
  • Stay hydrated with lots of tap water. 
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time - get up and move around even for a minute or two. 
  • Do regular physical activity such as a 20-minute jog, yoga or Pilates. 
  • Make a quick call to a loved one or a good friend to talk things through and clear the mind. 
  • Eat healthy snacks like nuts, natural yoghurt, fruit and toast. 
  • Go easy on the caffeine. It disturbs your sleep and makes you more tired the next day.