The school board in Manatee County, Florida has boldly banned energy drinks from all schools in the county. The vote to ban drinks like Red Bull, Rockstar and Full Throttle was four to zero, effectively placing the drinks on the same level as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Considering that energy drinks are chock full of sugar, caffeine and other unregulated additives, banning them from the hands of children and teens is a smart move.
In fact, in 2011, researchers (unsurprisingly) found that energy drinks are dangerous for teens and children. Sadly, nearly one-third of 12 to 14 year olds consume the drinks regularly. Even more sad, 46% of the caffeine overdoses in the US in 2007 occurred among people under age 19. There’s also evidence that energy drinks can contribute to depression and anxiety, and they can also interfere with common medications, including antidepressants.
I’m sure there are lots of pissed off teens in Manatee County (population 322,833) right now, but parents and county officials are sticking to their decision. Joe Stokes, the director of elementary schools in the county, said:
“We know a significant number of students who have increased energy followed by decreased energy can have agitation. Caffeine affects how the brain works.”
The ban will take effect for the 2012-2013 school year, reportedly after the drinks became a problem in the school district for the last few years.
I’m all for consenting adults doing whatever they want (within reason) but I think a ban on energy drinks in schools is totally understandable, especially considering the risks they pose to younger people. If Manatee County teens are worried about staying awake for their early first period classes, there’s always coffee!