March 7 is the Last for Energy Drink Sales at This College Campus

March 7 is the Last for Energy Drink Sales at This College Campus

A Vermont college just banned the sale of energy drinks on its campus, saying the beverages contribute to risky sex and unwanted behaviors.

Middlebury College Dining Services will no longer sell products like 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, or Monster Energy on its campus. College officials have linked the beverages to “problematic behavior” such as alcohol abuse, and “high-risk sexual activity.” It says, also, that the drinks don’t contribute to the dining service’s mission to “nourish” its students.

The ban goes into effect March 7. [1]

Read: Buyer Beware: The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks

On January 19, Dining Software intern Myles Kamisher-Koch presented scientific research at a Community Council meeting which pointed out the health risks associated with energy drinks, and argued that they contradict what the department tries to do for students: to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining mind, body, and earth.”

Kamisher-Koch cited a study which found that “up to 25% of current drinkers combine alcoholic beverages with energy drinks.” He also included reports stating that energy drinks promote poor academic performance and foster a “culture of stress.”

Read: Alcohol-Energy Drink Combo More Dangerous Than Alcohol Alone

Students learned of the school’s decision via a flyer signed by Executive Director of Food Service Dan Detora. The flyer reads, in part, that “increased alcohol consumption, increased likelihood to drive while intoxicated, increased probability of use of other intoxicating substance and increased participation in high-risk sexual activity.” [2]

Many students, who undoubtedly use energy drinks to fuel not only parties by all-night study sessions, are unhappy with the ban, including Arnav Adhikari, a 22-year-old senior from India who works at the cafe.

Adhikari said he used to sell “loads” of energy drinks. He believes the ban is overkill.

Adhikari told NBC News:

“There are more important things for them to address. And what do energy drinks have to do with sexual activity? They still sell lots of fried food.”

Energy drinks alone may not contribute to risky sexual behavior, but when combined with alcohol, they certainly do.

And while it may seem contradictory to ban energy drinks but continue to sell deep-fried foods, energy drinks can have an immediate and deadly effect on people. An 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull only contains about the same amount of caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of coffee, but some energy drinks contain dangerous levels that can trigger heart attacks, even in young people, especially if people consume more than 1.

Image: Medscape

One Middlebury student said:

“I have friends who drink six shots a day. For me, one shot works, but I can’t sleep afterwards and go straight to class in the morning.” [3]

Energy drinks also contain tons of sugar, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cavities.

Read: Don’t Drink This if You Want to Avoid Diabetes

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation into 5-Hour Energy after receiving reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to the product in a matter of weeks. From 2009 to 2012, 5-Hour Energy was mentioned in 90 filings with the agency, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries including heart attacks, convulsions, and even a spontaneous abortion. [4]

In 2015, Consumer Affairs wrote that an international study led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, found that 31% of adolescents ages 12 to 19 consume energy drinks on a daily basis. There were 5,448 caffeine overdoses in 2007, and 46% of them occurred in people under age 19.

Image: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The researchers developed the following guidelines:

  • One can (250 mL) of an energy drink per day is safe for most healthy adolescents.
  • Energy drink consumption before or during sports practice should be avoided.
  • Adolescents with clinically relevant underlying medical conditions should consult cardiologists before drinking energy drinks.
  • Excessive energy drink consumption together with alcohol or other drugs, or both, may lead to adverse effects, including death. [5]

But the main concern among colleges and universities appears to be the conduct of some students who combine energy drinks with booze.

In 2011, the University of New Hampshire decided to quit selling energy drinks on campus, citing similar concerns as Middlebury College:

“Students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks reported double the incidence rates of injuring themselves, requiring medical attention, and being taken advantage of sexually than those who drank only alcohol.”

Read: Attorney General Investigates Energy Drink Claims, Ingredients, and Safety


[1] The Washington Times

[2] USA Today College

[3] NBC News

[4] The New York Times

[5] Consumer Affairs

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


Featured image credit: Maggie Starbard/NPR