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Too Matcha: The Overconsumption of Caffeine

Authored by Leyna Hoang

Art by Stella Yan


Every time anyone walks into a grocery store, arrives at class, or scrolls on TikTok, caffeinated drinks appear instantly. Whether it is an energy drink, coffee, or tea, there is no escaping caffeine’s overwhelming presence around teens, adults, and even children. It has taken over the beverage market as well as control of the population through people’s high dependency. Although there can be many health benefits of caffeine, the stresses of school and the influence of content creators and social media incentivize a quick “fix” for many people’s energy levels, resulting in overconsumption of the tasty drug. 


So, what is caffeine, and is it safe? Caffeine is categorized as a member of a drug class called stimulants. Stimulants increase the activity throughout the brain and body by altering its chemistry. Stimulants can improve someone’s potential heightened alertness, confidence, and more. According to the FDA, “400 milligrams a day” is the maximum amount not associated with harm for most people. However, it still requires consideration of age, medications taken, health conditions, and more because this number is not the definite maximum for everyone [1]. Apart from the caffeine quantity, separate ingredients that typically accompany caffeine products can also be harmful. The rise of high-energy drinks, such as Prime or Celsius, come with loads of sugar (or artificial sweeteners) and health issues that incite panic around the world. These caffeinated drinks with high sugars provoke dental cavities and increase obesity on top of the already present caffeine-induced side effects such as increased heart rate, nausea, insomnia, and more [2]. When people ignore the FDA’s recommendations, problems can arise. 


 One focus group that repeatedly overconsumes caffeine is college students. On average, many college students consume 400-500 mg of caffeine a day, breaking the threshold of moderate amounts [3]. College students today are tasked with impossible schedules and rigorous course loads, requiring them to obtain energy throughout the day, and sometimes into the night, from sources other than sleep. As people continue to consume caffeine, a tolerance begins to build over time as they become accustomed to the routine. Their body adjusts and reacts to caffeine less. This causes people to drink more and more caffeine to achieve a certain level of energy.


Overconsumption of caffeine does not only affect college students, it can involve children too. In recent years, more and more children are consuming caffeine. Bright and colorful packaging, fruity flavors, and the marketing of energy drinks as fitness drinks create the illusion of having great effects on the body as well as drawing children into drinking them [4]. Social media and marketing play a significant role in influencing its users. Content creators like Logan Paul and KSI, creators of Prime, and Charli Damelio, who has a cold brew drink named after her at Dunkin, both directly and indirectly influence people to consume caffeine. They advertise their products to their young audiences without knowing its full effects. In addition, children unintentionally receive caffeine through less obvious ways, such as soda. Children and adolescents are continuously developing, and consistent intake of caffeine alters the natural progression of growth. Caffeine’s complete effects are still unknown, but it can cause increased anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, acid reflux, as well as sleep disturbance [5]. Most children do not need caffeine to get through the day, but rather drink it for its aesthetics, image, or alluring concept. 


Government regulations are needed to ensure the safety of minors as well as to bring awareness to the potential harms of caffeine overconsumption. The occasional Starbucks drink here and there is satisfactory. However, caffeine intake often transcends into a socially acceptable, but still harmful addiction. 


References


  1. Commissioner, O. of the. (2023, September 7). Spilling the beans: How much caffeine is too much?. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much

  2. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. (2022, August 3). Caffeine and kids. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/caffeine-and-kids

  3. Creswell, J. (2023, June 9). Energy drinks are surging. so are their caffeine levels. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/09/business/prime-monster-energy-drinks-caffeine.html

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