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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Energy drinks stimulate UA

    A black 2006 Chevy truck rolls slowly down the miniature road usually reserved for bikes and pedestrians. Students don’t care if it’s in the way. In fact, many are mobbing the truck, shouting like a protest crowd.

    But this isn’t a protest.

    It’s one of the Monster Energy truck’s frequent campus drive-bys – a marketing effort to promote the brand by tossing free drinks to the sleep-deprived, caffeine-dependant masses.

    The energy drink phenomenon has become part of student culture over the past few years, and while it’s greatly increased study hours in the library, it also depletes money clips and leaves students in need of a morning pick-me-up.

    Kim Celaya, who has been working for the Student Union Memorial Center for 11 years, said the demand for energy drinks spiked a few years ago and continues to grow.

    “”A couple of years ago we weren’t selling any at all, but now we have I think eight different brands,”” Celaya said.

    During final exams, the student unions have to order a lot more,she said.

    Energy drink companies all have mottos that appeal to people who lead active lifestyles.

    For example, Red Bull’s Web site suggests drinking its product on “”long, sleep-inducing motorways, during intensive working days, prior to demanding athletic activities or before tests and exams.””

    Ryan Jondall, an undeclared freshman who is training for the annual bicycle race El Tour de Tucson, said he relies on energy drinks on his off-weeks to simulate the rush that comes from hard training.

    “”When I don’t work out, I find myself wanting more … I use caffeine to boost my mood,”” Jondall said as he sipped his diet Red Bull.

    Regular and diet versions of Red Bull, AMP, Monster and Rockstar are stocked in student union stores around campus.

    A new brand, Bookoo, was added to the inventory in September.

    Since October 2005, student union stores have moved over 96,000 energy drinks, according to a student union inventory report.

    That’s roughly 2.5 energy drinks per student in less than a year.

    Red Bull was the old favorite, constituting 47,784 of the total. Monster came in second with 27,840.

    Maria Celis, supervisor of the Bookend CafǸ near the UA Main Library, said they sell the most energy drinks between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

    Celis has been with the cafǸ since it opened five years ago and said because of its proximity to the library, there has always been a high demand for energy drinks.

    She saidthey sell more energy drinks around midterms and finals.

    “”Those and index cards – we have to have a lot of both,”” Celis said.

    The additives, such as taurine, ginseng, gingko biloba and other supplements, aren’t essential nutrients and have no proven positive or negative effect on the body, said Melanie Hingle, a nutritional sciences research specialist at the UA.

    “”The term ‘energy drink’ is really a misnomer”” because caffeine is the substance providing the energy, she said.

    Caffeine increases your heart rate and heightens alertness temporarily, but in the long term it can become addictive, Hingle said.

    It increases dopamine levels, just like heroin does, only on a much smaller scale. If a person doesn’t get his caffeine for the day, he might become irritable and depressed, almost like he needs caffeine to feel good again.

    Unlike heroin, however, simply cutting back on caffeine for a while can curb dependency, Hingle said.

    Mike Jorishie, a senior majoring in economics and Spanish, said he cycles his caffeine use so his body won’t adjust to it.

    “”I usually take the pills or drinks. It gives that extra kick to finish your workout,”” said Jorishie, who uses caffeine more as a workout supplement than a study aid.

    David Yrigoyen, a moleculer and cellular biology junior, said he used to drink a lot of energy drinks but stopped because of health reasons.

    “”I try to stay away from them, but I still have one every now and then,”” Yrigoyen said.

    Hingle said the main problem with energy drinks is the price. They sell on campus for around $2.50 and off campus for around $2.

    Though it’s still cheaper than a Starbucks coffee, buying one even four times a week would cost more than $400 a year.

    “”It hurts your pocketbook more than anything else,”” Hingle said. “”Those drinks are expensive.””

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