Helping Your Teen Avoid Energy Drinks

Teen boy drinking energy drink at desk

A recent study found that one in three UK children regularly consume energy drinks, and that drinking excessive amounts may be linked to behavioural changes. Most of these drinks contain stimulants, generally caffeine, and promote increased mental and physical function. But since many are also packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners, it's no surprise that over-consumption may negatively impact health, particularly in teenagers.

The study found that teens who drink energy drinks are more likely to have trouble sleeping, headaches and stomach problems, as well as lower overall wellbeing. On top of this, some report feeling anxious, stressed and irritable. The study did note that kids who are better informed about the downsides, tend to drink less. So, as we approach exam time, here are some ways to help empower your child or teenager to stay healthy and alert, without resorting to sugary or caffeinated drinks.  

1.      Figure Out the ‘Why’

Understanding why your child might be reaching for an energy drink is the first step. Are they using it to manage stress? To increase energy after a bad night’s sleep? Or maybe it’s the only option available? Some of the motivations might be easily managed in a more effective way but identifying the why will give you some insight into your child’s overall wellbeing. With more info, you'll be better equipped to support them too.

2.      Educate Them  

Teenagers have their hands full navigating the world without having to consider the contents of their lunch. But they’re receptive to information and in many ways are more health-conscious than previous generations. Educating them about the specific side-effects relevant to them (increased anxiety, weight gain, skin problems and mood), as well as the potential upsides (more energy, better focus and less stress) associated with ditching them may inspire a different choice.

Teen girl drinking energy drink outdoors

3.      Try Something Else 

Creating a new habit is easier done by replacing it with something new, so giving them alternative options is an easy way to decrease consumption. Some healthier choices include:  

H2O with a Twist 

Adding a piece of fruit is an instant way to jazz up some water. Staples are orange, lemon and lime but if they’re feeingl fruity, add some berries, apple, mango or pineapple!  

Tea Please  

Fruit teas are increasingly popular and a great way to increase water consumption. Many are packed with vitamins and antioxidants so are a great way to boost overall immunity. Plus, they can be drunk hot or iced.  

Make it Fizzy! 

Carbonating drinks is a great way to pack an extra punch. Whether it’s water, cordial, juice or iced tea, a bit of fizz can go all the way to replicating some of the popular drinks on the market - but without all the additives.  

Other Available Supports

Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing to all individuals and communities.

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Visit: https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/

The National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

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Providing a free, therapeutic approach to people who are in suicidal distress and those who engage in self-harm.

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Visit: https://www.pieta.ie/

Dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide.

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Visit: https://www.samaritans.org/?nation=ireland

Assisting people affected by depression, bipolar disorder and related mood conditions.

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Visit: https://www.aware.ie/

Peer advocacy in mental health.

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Visit: http://irishadvocacynetwork.com/wp/

Ireland’s youth information website created by young people, for young people.

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Call: 01 675 3554
Visit: https://spunout.ie/

Confidential helpline for parents and guardians.

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Call: 01 873 3500
Visit: https://www.parentline.ie/

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