Effective March 7, students at Middlebury College in Vermont will no longer be able to buy energy drinks such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy on campus. According to the student newspaper, the college is halting the sale of the popular beverages in all its retail and dining services locations.
The decision to stop selling energy drinks on campus resulted from a debate that began Jan. 19 during a meeting of the college’s community council. At that time, Dining Software intern Myles Kamisher-Koch argued that selling energy drinks contradicted the school’s mission to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining mind, body and earth.”
Kamisher-Koch maintained that energy drinks pose health risks and presented data from a study that showed that up to 25 percent of people who consume energy drinks combine them with alcoholic beverages. “The school has a responsibility to direct students to healthy choices through what they provide,” one student told the school newspaper in support of Kamisher-Koch’s proposal.
Following an 11 to 1 vote, the Community Council voted to approve Kamisher-Koch’s recommendation. In a flyer posted in one of the college’s cafes, campus officials wrote, ”Energy drink consumption facilitates unhealthy work habits such as prolonged periods of sleeplessness, contributing to a campus culture of stress and unsustainable study habits.”
Dan Detora, executive director of Food Services, told NBC News, that he sees the ban on energy drinks “as the equivalent of banning cigarettes.” Detora added the drinks have been linked to cardiovascular issues, seizures and liver damage.
In addition, college officials pointed to energy drinks as contributing to “problematic behavior,” including alcohol abuse and “high-risk sexual activity.” And it turns out that studies provide evidence to support this claim.
In 2014, a study published in Nutrition Review found sexual risk-taking, including having unprotected sex and having sex under the influence of alcohol, were common among energy drink users. A second study from the University of Buffalo suggested mixing energy drinks with alcohol increased the number of drunken hook-ups or causal sex among college students.
Although Middlebury College students cannot buy energy drinks on campus, they can still purchase them elsewhere and bring them to the school. They can also stop at any campus retail or dining services location for some Guayaki Yerba Mate, an energy shot made from organic tea that’s considered a healthier alternative.