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Objective: The aims of the study were to determine the prevalence of energy drink consumption by adolescents, to identify associated clinical symptoms and adverse effects, and to gain an understanding to the motivation behind its consumption.

Methods: A prospective, questionnaire-based study was conducted at 2 emergency departments from June 2011 to June 2013. The questionnaire was distributed to a convenience sample of adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. Stratification was performed on the basis of frequency of consumption: frequent consumption (at least once a month) and infrequent consumption (less frequent than once a month).

Results: Data analysis was performed on 612 completed questionnaires. Two hundred two responders (33%) were considered frequent energy drink consumers. Frequent consumers were more likely to be involved in high-risk behaviors and more likely to consume other caffeinated drinks. In the previous 6 months, frequent energy drink consumers were more likely to report headache (76%), anger (47%), and increased urination (24%) and were more likely to require medical evaluation for headache (41%) and difficulty breathing (22%). Frequent energy drink consumers were more likely to believe that energy drinks "help me do better in school" (12%), "help me do better in sports" (35%), "are just for fun" (46%), "help me stay up at night" (67%), and "make me concentrate/focus better" (34%).

Conclusions: Clarifying common misconceptions associated with energy drink consumption, especially in high-risk adolescents and frequent energy drink consumers, may decrease the frequency of symptoms experienced by adolescents, such as headache and difficulty breathing, requiring medical evaluation.

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