Walking through the hallway, a student hands begin to jitter, head pounds, and their stomach turns in circles. These may be the same symptoms of a student catching the flu, but they are experiencing the side effects of consuming too much caffeine. At Hershey High School (HHS), Mountain Dew Kickstarts are sold in the cafeteria. This caffeinated beverage should not be sold at HHS due to the unhealthy ingredients and side effects of caffeine.
The Mountain Dew Kickstart is marketed as an “enhanced soft drink” for soda drinkers looking for an alternative boost of energy in the morning. This drink is seen as healthy because it is merely 80 calories, made with fruit juice, and has Vitamins B and C, but this energy drink is only 5% fruit juice and has a limited amount of vitamins. According to the nutritional facts from Pepsi who makes Kickstart, a single Kickstart contains many unhealthy sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup, and two zero-calorie artificial sweeteners: sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. In fact, high fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient listed, and one 16-ounce can has 20g of sugar.
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugars added you should have daily is 25g for women and 38g for men. This means having two cans of Kickstart everyday exceeds the recommended amount of sugar a person should intake.
Not only does the Kickstart have unhealthy ingredients, but a 16-ounce can of this “enhanced soft drink” has 92 mg of caffeine. According to the Federal Food and Drug administration, there are many negative symptoms that can occur from too much caffeine intake including: insomnia, anxiety, fast heart rate, and nausea.
The FDA says 400mg a day for adults can cause the previously stated side effects, but the exact amount varies from person to person. For children, the Mayo Clinic suggests a maximum of 100 mg a day for adolescents. A Kickstart is only 8mg away from the Mayo Clinic’s suggested limit, and if a student has two Kickstarts a day, they are 84 mg above the amount.
“If you’re susceptible to the effects of caffeine, just small amounts — even one cup of coffee or tea — may prompt unwanted effects, such as restlessness and sleep problems,” said The Mayo Clinic.
The amount of caffeine and sugar in Kickstart can create negative side effects during a student’s school day. So why is the HHS Cafeteria selling them?
Parents and students should contact the school administration to remove the Kickstart vending machine from the HHS Cafeteria.
Mr. Greg Hummel, the Director of Food Services, is in charge of the types of products served at HHS, and concerned students, parents, and community members can email him at [email protected].