“I don’t drink Red bull, I have wings naturally” Samer Ghadban, 22-year-old Marketing major admitted with a smile. This opinion is not shared with many of the students in the Lebanese American University (LAU). Red bull, caffeine, energy shots, even medication for ADHD are the reason behind many shaking legs and bulging eyes around campus. It is widely known that physicians and psychiatrists do not encourage the use of these substances, but that does not hinder some students from abusing them.
To get an idea about exactly how much caffeine LAU students consume, a visit was paid to the neighboring stores. On upper gate, a popular venue is Malik’s bookshop, which also sells red bull. Issa Sattouf, store manager, claims that they sell about four cartons of red bull a day, each carton containing 24 cans. In front of lower gate there is a wider variety of options. Fatha Hlel, cashier of “3 Lower Gate,” states that he sells about 48 cans of red bull per day. Mohammad Zayyed, manager of Kripsy Kreme LAU branch, professed that he sells precisely 80 cups of American coffee per day, and 75% of the consumers are students. Wassim Ghalayini, owner of City’s Market said that they sell about 50 boxes of red bull every month and a half. What City’s Market has that the others don’t are energy shots. Ghalayini claims that he sells about 4 or 5 a day. “My supplier said he will refill the supply after exam time because the energy shots would then be done,” Ghalayini quipped. He even confessed that some students buy a can of red bull and an energy shot during exam period.
Ruba Halabi, Business freshman, consumes three cans of red bull a day. “I like it, it helps me concentrate, the only negative effect I experience is that I get tired faster during basketball practice,” said Halabi. Khaled Sayyed, accounting major claims that he is not addicted to red bull and only drinks it when necessary. “I have been awake since eight and I have an exam at 5:30 p.m., if I don’t drink red bull I will off myself” Sayyed joked. Samer Niser, management major, confessed, “I once drank 13 cans of red bull in one day, the fast heart beat was annoying.”
Clinical dietician, Sarah Adwan clarifies why red bull has such a bad reputation in terms of health. She explains that each can of red bull contains an excessive amount of caffeine, and over a long period of time, consumption can lead to adverse effects. Eventually, having caffeine will make the consumer tired instead of active. In the long run, a high concentration of caffeine can cause anxiety disorders. “They won’t be able to sleep anymore, even if they do sleep, they are not in the right level of sleep that their body needs to rest, it’s a shallow sleep,” Adwan said. The lack of sleep can also cause its own set of problems. Further more, Adwan cautions about the amount of simple sugars in such drinks. Simple sugars have no benefit, only empty calories; an excess of them can cause an increase in adrenaline and even hypoglycemia.
Most of the LAU students interviewed admitted that they had heard of the negative affects but never experienced them. The only mentioned repercussion was a fast heartbeat. However, according to Adwan, they will feel the effects in the long run. Perhaps it’s better to have healthy sleeping habits than to rely on substances to stay awake.
This was previously published in the LAU tribune.