The Big Buzz on Caffeinated Drinks

Ale Gonzalez / el Don
Ale Gonzalez / el Don

By: Howard Lee

A vending machine malfunction found Santa Ana College student William Chavez with a sudden windfall at Knott’s Berry Farm: four Rockstar energy drinks — for the price of one.

“I had one and still felt normal, but after two my head started to spin. It felt like my brain was pulsing,” Chavez said.

Energy drinks are commonplace on college campuses, but three U.S. senators, branding themselves as “veterans of the tobacco wars,” are pushing to limit its sale.

Most energy drinks contain about 62 grams of sugar and 160 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce serving.

The same amount of coffee contains about 330 milligrams of caffeine, according to studies by the Harvard School of Public Health.

“I’ll have one in the afternoon before class, or if I’m playing sports with friends,” student Richard Banuelos said.

More than 38 percent of SAC students consume energy drinks, with 40 percent using them to stay up late studying, according to an informal el Don poll that had 150 respondents.

With on-campus options like Rockstar, Starbucks Double Shot, and Amp, students recharge by purchasing about 300 energy drinks per week, according to figures from the Don Express.

About 21 percent of those polled drink them to stave off hangovers or stay
up late partying. Slogans and ad campaigns tout healthy lifestyles, but can
be misleading.

A study published in Nutrition Review journal reported: “There is an overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate claims that components of energy drinks, other than caffeine, contribute to the enhancement of physical or cognitive performance.”

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Still, students continue to consume energy drinks.

“I’ll have maybe one or two every month, if I need an extra boost, before work or something,” said SAC student Irvin Mendoza.



By the Numbers

40 – Percent of SAC students who use energy drinks as a study aid.



21- Percent of those polled drink them to stave off hangovers.


300- Number of energy drinks, including Rockstar and Amp, sold by the Don Express per week.

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