Informing Intervention Strategies to Reduce Energy Drink Consumption in Young People: Findings From Qualitative Research
Energy drinks have been associated with negative health concerns, especially in people who are vulnerable due to existing medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, etc. Children and adolescents also are more vulnerable to negative effects from energy drinks, especially when combined with alcohol or drugs. Regulations on caffeine levels, age restrictions, labeling, and marketing are variable across the world and many consumers are unaware of recommendations regarding energy drink intake and drink content.
The study interviewed a total of 41 young adults and adolescents aged 12-25 that lived in Australia in 8 small focus groups to determine energy drink awareness and consumption, side effects of energy drinks, knowledge about energy drinks, factors influencing consumption, and ways to reduce consumption. Themes emerging from these topics revealed that many participants have little knowledge about energy drinks. Age and gender play a role in determining consumption, with males and younger adults drinking more than females and adults age 18 and over. Participants were also more likely to consume energy drinks if they were in a location with high access to them, with a common theme of consuming energy drinks for staying awake to study and to play video games. Some participants said they did not consume energy drinks because of negative health effects. Taste and cost were both deterrents and incentives to choosing energy drinks. Peer pressure, marketing and promotions, and parental influence also played a role in consumption.
Strategies to reduce energy drink consumption include restrictions, increasing cost, increasing education, changing packaging, and reducing visibility in retail locations. Participants thought restrictions should be made on drinks with sizes larger than the maximum serving size recommendations, as well as to children 12 and under, and in schools. Participants thought that packaging should be made less attractive and have larger warning labels. They also believed that making the drinks more expensive and putting them on shelves not at eye level would deter purchase and consumption. In regards to education, participants thought interactive education would be more effective, and they also wanted to see more news stories and television announcements educating about energy drinks. Education would also need to be tailored to the age being targeted because there were differences between younger and older participants regarding reasons influencing consumption of energy drinks.
Francis, J., Martin, K., Costa, B., Christian, H., Kaur, S., Harray, A., . . . Trapp, G. (2017). Informing intervention strategies to reduce energy drink consumption in young people: findings from qualitative research. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 49(9), 724-733.