Energy drink consumption and substance use risk in middle school students

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Objectives: Energy drink (ED) sales have increased greatly in recent years and ED is now a common topic in health behavior research. Most studies work with samples of college students and/or young adults and to a lesser degree with high school students. Research is lacking on ED consumption in younger users. The purpose of this study was to fill this gap and assess the prevalence of ED consumption in a sample of middle school students as well to analyze the relationships between ED use and illicit and licit drug use in girls and boys of this age. Method: We use cross-sectional school-survey data from 6-8th grade students in three US mid-Atlantic schools conducted in September to November 2014 (N = 1152, response rate: 82.4%). Results: Approximately 20% of participants had consumed ED and 10% had smoked cigarettes. Almost 14% had used alcohol at least once in their lifetime and 5.5% marijuana. Boys were more likely than girls to have used ED but no gender difference was observed in the prevalence of illicit substances. However, ED use was positively related to smoking and alcohol use among both genders, but also to several forms of illicit drug use among girls. Conclusion: ED consuming girls are particularly prone to also use illicit substances. This is the first survey-type study which reports a positive relationship between ED consumption with both licit and illicit drug use in middle school-aged girls and boys.




Mann, M. J., Smith, M. L. s., & Kristjansson, A. L. (2016). Energy drink consumption and substance use risk in middle school students. Preventive Medicine Reports, 3, 279–282.

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