Energy Drinks + Exams = recipe for failure

by Beth Bradshaw | 22 May, 2017 9:27 am

As we move into exam season for millions of children and young people in the UK, the sales of energy drinks are likely to take a sharp rise. Next to the piles of revision notes commonly features an empty cans of energy drink, such as Red Bull, Monster or Relentless. Unfortunately, they appear to become a staple or necessity in the diets of children and young people during exam period. But why do this age group so often turn to these drinks to help them through these tough times?

Unfortunately, industry heavily market energy drinks to children and young people. Over 69% of adolescents in the UK regularly drink energy drinks, citing taste, energy and the need to stay awake as reasons for consumption. The aesthetics and appeal of these cans are often tailored to the preferences of teenagers, particularly boys. For example, Monster’s latest drink ‘44’ is features three time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and the can reflects the colours of his car and helmet. This is in spite of the small print on the labelling information reading “not suitable for children”.

Moreover, they are portrayed to increase our mental and physical activity, by providing short term boosts of energy through the copious amounts of sugar, caffeine and other ingredients. Others claim to have lots of unusual ingredients such as taurine, b-vitamins, ginseng and ephedrine which are also said to boost brain function. All in all, the so-called benefits of consuming energy drinks speak to many teenagers and adults during exam time to provide that extra boost they need to keep them going.

A commonplace for teenagers and young adults in all night revision, fuelled by energy drinks and high-sugar snacks. On the contrary, advice from health professionals is relaxation, drinking lots of water and long sleeps and avoiding high-caffeine drinks. A healthy diet and regular physical activity is important every day, however during exam time it is even more important in placing you in the best mental and physical state to achieve your full potential in exams.  Furthermore, research suggests consumption of water before and during examinations may improve exam performance and overall grades.

Instead, excessive consumption of energy drinks can negatively impact your health. Short term impacts may be irritability, disturbed sleep patterns, stomach upsets and dehydration. All of which you do not want to be entering an exam with. Research is ongoing into the long-term impacts of energy drink consumption, although early studies are producing some worrying findings. Increased risk of heart attacks, poor mental health, high blood pressure, insomnia and weight gain are just some of the potential long term consequences.

It is no wonder why so many youths consume lots of energy drinks considering they way in which they are marketed. We must discourage the consumption of these drinks during this important time, instead promoting the benefits of drinking water to provide them with the best possible chance in their exams.

For more detailed information on energy drinks, read the GULP briefing document[1] here.


Further reading:

EFSA (2013). Energy drinks report [online]. Available at:[2] [Accessed: 15th May 2017].

Seifert, S.M., Schaechter, J.L., Hershorin, E.R. and Lipshultz, S.E. (2011). Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents and Young Adults. Paediatrics. V.127 (3).



  1. GULP briefing document:

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