The Black & White

Caffeine drinks need to be accessible

By Shayna Barbash

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Diet drinks and low calorie sodas should be available during the day. Photo by Shayna Barbash.

Diet drinks and low calorie sodas should be available during the day. Photo by Shayna Barbash.

Last week, struggling to stay awake during my morning classes and without time to go out for lunch, I went to the vending machines in search of a little caffeine to help me get through the day.

But the outcome was upsetting.  Every machine was closed until the end of the school day, leaving me with no options to get a boost of energy to power through the rest of the day.

While keeping soda and vending machines closed until after school is part of a nationwide effort to combat adolescent obesity, it’s important for students to have some sort of resource for caffeine during the day.  With so many high school students sleep-deprived, caffeine plays a crucial role in their ability to function over the course of the day.  While large amounts of caffeine can lead to a hyper-energetic state and is detrimental to health, small amounts are harmless and provide a quick burst of energy to stay alert and focus for long periods of time.
Although I usually try to avoid any types of soda, I’ve found the caffeine in coffee and diet coke can really provide that needed “pick-me-up” during a long day.  Because diet sodas have no calories and are a good source of caffeine, schools should have a single machine open during the school day with diet sodas and calorie-free drinks.
For those who are ardently against drinking soda, other more healthful drinks could be made available in the school vending machines. Teas, such as Honest Tea, are lower in calories than almost all sugar drinks and do not have artificial sweeteners or the chemicals people fear in normal sodas.  Although teas usually contain about a half the amount of caffeine of soda, they provide an alternative for those against soda.
Studies conducted in Italy have previously shown that artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and Equal, are harmful to the body.  An initial study on rats in Venice showed that the sweetener aspartame lead to malignant brain tumors in 12 of the 320 rats tested.  However, more recent studies conducted by French and Italian scientists indicate that there’s no association between low calorie sweeteners and cancer.
While many people still question the negative effects of low calorie sweeteners, they provide a non-caloric option for those struggling with their weight.  Having low calorie and diet drinks available during the school day doesn’t contribute to the obesity epidemic, but rather provide a convenient and effective source of energy for students without adding calories to their diet.

While keeping soda and vending machines closed during the school day is part of a nationwide effort to combat adolescent obesity, it’s important for students to have some sort of resource for caffeine during the day.  With so many high school students sleep-deprived, caffeine plays a crucial role in their ability to function over the course of the day.

While large amounts of caffeine can lead to a hyper-energetic state and is detrimental to health, small amounts are harmless and provide a quick burst of energy to stay alert and focus for long periods of time.

Although I usually try to avoid any types of soda, I’ve found the caffeine in coffee and diet coke can really provide that needed “pick-me-up” during a long day.  Because diet sodas have no calories and are a good source of caffeine, schools should have a single machine open during the school day with diet sodas and calorie-free drinks.

For those who are ardently against drinking soda, other more healthful drinks could be made available in the school vending machines. Teas, such as Honest Tea, are lower in calories than almost all sugar drinks and do not have artificial sweeteners or the chemicals people fear in normal sodas.  Although teas usually contain about a half the amount of caffeine of soda, they provide an alternative for those against soda.

Studies conducted in Italy have previously shown that artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and Equal, are harmful to the body.  An initial study on rats in Venice showed that the sweetener aspartame lead to malignant brain tumors in 12 of the 320 rats tested.  However, more recent studies conducted by French and Italian scientists indicate that there’s no association between low calorie sweeteners and cancer.

While many people still question the negative effects of low calorie sweeteners, they provide a non-caloric option for those struggling with their weight.  Having low calorie and diet drinks available during the school day doesn’t contribute to the obesity epidemic, but rather provide a convenient and effective source of energy for students without adding calories to their diet.

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