College students continue to pour in caffeine despite deadly news

The young adults are preparing for finals
Posted at 6:33 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 19:33:53-04

Despite news of a caffeine overdose turning fatal for a South Carolina teen, students preparing for finals are still downing the drinks.

A caffeine overdose is to blame for a senseless tragedy. A 16- year-old boy died last month after drinking a large Mt. Dew, a McDonald’s Café Latte and an energy drink in the final two hours of his life.

Caffeine is commonly used and readily available to almost anyone. It is often depended on for college student during finals week. The two go hand in hand for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee freshman Wyatt Lawrence.

"I definitely drink a lot of Monster," he said.

Sophomore Mitch Schowalter is a self proclaimed caffeine addict. His stressful studies come with a daily routine.

"In the mornings, I make a pot of coffee, then go to the library study for however long, get coffee there, and then I’ll be up until 3 a.m. drinking more coffee, Monster," Schowalter said.

Now the dangers of caffeine are under scrutiny after a seemingly healthy teenager in South Carolina dropped dead of a heart attack. Local nutrition experts said this should be a reminder that caffeine can be more of a foe than a friend.

"It seems like it certainly would put someone at risk," said UWM Nutrition Professor Susan Kundrat.

The Food and Drug Administration said up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is safe for healthy adults, but those under age are only supposed to consume a fourth of that. Just one 8-ounce cup of coffee would put them over the top.

"It may help a little bit in that way but it also may take a lot longer time to get to sleep and to get your rest and to calm down," Kundrat said.

Kundrat said the key is moderation, but real energy comes in natural ways.

"You have to get enough rest and you have to be eating on a schedule, make sure you're not missing meals," she said.

Kundrat said caffeine doesn't really give you energy; it gives you the perception that you have more energy because of an increased heart rate -- something that can trigger undetected heart problems.

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