When The University of New Hampshire considered banning energy drinks on campus recently, it sparked a debate on colleges across the nation.
MariJo Nootz, senior director of the Shriver Center, said she believes Miami University will not take the step to stop selling energy drinks.
“I can’t speak for New Hampshire, but the way I personally look at it is that the students are adults and they have a choice of what they want to drink or what to eat, and it’s our job to present them with healthy alternatives or things that they can eat,” Nootz said. “But as far as limiting something that they could go down the street and get, I don’t agree with that on most items.”
Nootz is not the only person who believes students have the ultimate choice on what they eat or drink. Assistant Director in the Office of Student Wellness Leslie Haxby McNeill also said she feels the university’s role is to provide students with choices.
“We’re in the office of student wellness and what we’re trying to promote is educating people to make choices that are good health choices in all areas of their life and make sure that there are options available to them,” McNeill said. “I’m not going to say ‘do or don’t sell energy drinks.’ If they do decide not to, then I’d support that. As long as there are choices and people are not abusing something like energy drinks, then there isn’t a huge issue.”
Though Miami gives students the option of buying energy drinks, the Office of Student Wellness recognizes the health risks associated with consumption of these drinks.
“The thing that bothers me is that energy drinks are marketed to the youth,” McNeill said. “And I can’t remember the percentages now, I want to say it’s [about] 35 percent of college students regularly consume energy drinks and the health concerns for me are in taking all those stimulants.”
Energy drinks have a lot of sugar, caffeine and other kinds of stimulants. Some of the possible side effects of which are increased blood pressure, increased anxiety, panic attacks, gastric acid, bowel irritability and insomnia or trouble sleeping.
“Those are very real health risks and I don’t know that when people are college aged that they understand that there is immediate potential or effects,” McNeill said.
First-year Brooke Theisen regularly consumes energy drinks and knows the risks she’s taking.
“Sometimes, you just need something to help you get through a long day of school,” Theisen said. “Whether its coffee or an energy drink, I just drink it so I can study and get my work done.”
Though the University of New Hampshire later announced it would continue to sell energy drinks on campus, there is still talk of whether it’s okay to sell to students.
Miami University will continue to give students the option of drinking energy drinks, while trying to promote healthier options.
“The short take home message that I would want students to hear is that energy drinks are not a substitute for getting enough rest, good nutrition and good time management,” McNeill said.