ADHD News & Research

Hyperactivity and Inattention Linked to Energy Drinks

Recent research finds that middle schoolers who consume energy drinks have a 66 percent higher risk of hyperactivity and inattention — two major symptoms of ADHD.

February 9, 2015

A new study1 by the Yale School of Public Health has found an association between students’ consumption of energy drinks and higher-than-average hyperactivity and inattention. Energy drinks were linked to a 66% higher risk for these behaviors, compared to a 14% increased risk after consuming other sweetened drinks like soda or juice.

The researchers surveyed 1,649 fifth, seventh, and eighth graders regarding the beverages they drank within the past 24 hours. Professionals then evaluated the students’ levels of hyperactivity and inattention based on a portion of the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire. Energy drinks contain significantly more caffeine than do sodas, plus additional ingredients like sugar, guarana and taurine that could impact consumers’ behavior. The scientists could not conclusively say that energy drinks cause increased hyperactivity and inattention, but they did find a clear association between increased consumption of energy drinks and a spike in those two hallmark symptoms of ADD in children.

Most energy drink companies market their products to children under the age of 18, despite American Beverage Association guidelines recommending against it. These new findings further support banning the sale of energy drinks in K-12 schools, and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children do not consume energy drinks – and limit other sweetened drinks. Most experts recommend that children with ADHD cut back on high-sugar foods and snacks which have been shown to make symptoms worse in some kids.

1 Schwartz, Deborah L., et al. “Energy Drinks and Youth Self-Reported Hyperactivity/Inattention Symptoms.” Academic Pediatrics, vol. 15, no. 3, 2015, pp. 297–304., doi:10.1016/j.acap.2014.11.006.