The Manatee County School Board in Florida has voted unanimously to ban energy drinks in the district’s schools, WFMY News 2 reports.
Teachers say the drinks are making students too restless to pay attention in class. Not only will the beverages not be available in vending machines or cafeterias, but students will also be prohibited from bringing them from home, according to ABC 2 News. Failure to adhere to the ban, which will take effect this school year, will result in a warning, followed by a suspension if the student is caught again.
Each 16 oz. can contains more than 14 teaspoons of sugar and 200 milligrams of caffeine — the equivalent of three cups of coffee. Most labels advise drinkers to “consume responsibly,” and limit themselves to one can every four hours no more than three times a day. The drinks are very popular among teenagers.
"They get me extremely hyper and it lasts throughout the day," 16-year-old Samantha Beard told MyFOX Tampa Bay. "If I have a few sips, it won't really do nothing. But if I drink a whole one, then it will have me bouncing off the walls in the classroom."
That extra energy is very much the problem, school officials say. While some argue that energy drinks can enhance performance and allow for improved focus, Manatee school officials assert the opposite and say the beverages have a negative effect on student concentration.
"We know a significant number of students who have increased energy followed by decreased energy can have agitation," Director of Elementary Schools Joe Stokes told WFMY. "Caffeine affects how the brain works."
Research shows that high levels of caffeine can affect blood pressure, heart rate and brain function. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of caffeine in sodas and juices, but not in energy drinks, since they are considered “dietary supplements.”
According to Robert Boxley, a psychologist with the Manatee-Glens Mental Health and Addiction Service, energy drinks can serve as a gateway to stronger stimulants.
"Once you get used to the idea, put something in your body to change the way you feel, then you open the door to all kinds of possibilities,” he told WFMY News 2.
Schools from California to Massachusetts are considering banning, or have already banned, chocolate milk, citing its high sugar content.
Last September, the University of New Hampshire made waves when it announced it would ban the sale of energy drinks on campus, but later recanted, saying the university needed more time to study the idea and gather input from students.
Earlier this year, a study in the journal General Dentistry found that tooth enamel is damaged after being exposed to sports drinks or energy drinks for just five days, with energy drinks causing two times as much enamel damage as the sports drinks.
According to a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, cases of caffeine poisoning have increased from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009.