Use of caffeinated energy drinks among secondary school students in Ontario: Prevalence and correlates of using energy drinks and mixing with alcohol

Jessica L. Reid, David Hammond, Cassondra McCrory, Joel A. Dubin, Scott T. Leatherdale


OBJECTIVES: Caffeinated energy drinks have become increasingly popular among young people, raising concern about possible adverse effects, including increased alcohol consumption and related risk behaviours. The current study examined consumption of caffeinated energy drinks and use of energy drinks with alcohol, as well as associations with socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics, among a sample of secondary school students in Ontario.

METHODS: Survey data from 23,610 grade 9–12 students at 43 purposefully sampled Ontario secondary schools participating in the baseline wave (2012/13) of the COMPASS study were analyzed using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Outcomes were any energy drink use, frequency of use, and use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks; covariates were age, sex, race, spending money, bodymass index (BMI), weight-related efforts and alcohol use. Two-way interactions between sex and other covariates were tested.

RESULTS: Nearly one in five students (18.2%) reported consuming energy drinks in a usual week. Use of energy drinks was associated (p < 0.01) with all socio-demographic variables examined and was more common among students who were male, off-reserve Aboriginal, had some spending money, had a BMI outside of “healthy” range, were trying to lose weight, and/or reported a higher intensity of alcohol use. Interactions with sex were observed for age, spending money and weight-related efforts. Use of energy drinks mixed with alcohol in the previous 12 months was reported by 17.3% of the sample, and was associated with race, spending money, and more frequent binge drinking.

CONCLUSION: Regular use of energy drinks was common among this sample of students and strongly linked to alcohol consumption.


Adolescent; energy drinks; caffeine; health behaviour

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