Fightin’ Words: Should the college sell high-sugar and energy drinks, and other processed foods?

“Yes”

Suzanne BuchholzReporter

Pierce College Puyallup offers a variety of options for students to buy food on campus, from the dining commons and bookstore to the various vending machines.

While the dining commons sells hot meals such as burgers and chicken strips, the bookstore offers convenient items like Top Ramen cups and other packaged foods. The vending machines are stocked with candy and chips. They all sell sodas, energy drinks and other high-sugar beverages along with bottled water.

Some students may question the nutritional value of processed foods and drinks like the ones Pierce offers. Others might wonder if they should be sold at the school at all, or if they should be replaced with more nutritious alternatives. While some people may argue that the college should only provide healthy choices for students, there are many reasons that it’s not bad to sell what’s considered junk food.

One reason is that college students are generally mature enough to make their own decisions about what to eat. It’s understandable to ban vending machines from elementary, middle schools and high schools or to only stock nutritious items, as children at this age aren’t necessarily capable of making wise choices about food. It also makes it easier for parents to limit their children’s junk food intake when they aren’t present. Once students reach college age, they tend to have a better grasp on what they should eat and how to balance their diets without their parents’ assistance.

College students are capable of making their own choices regardless of their parents’ preferences. Many college students live away from home and are responsible for making their own decisions on a daily basis, which includes what they eat. Even if a student still lives with their parents, they should be considered old enough to decide what food to get without worrying that their parents won’t approve. If they decide to pick a bag of chips and a bottle of Sprite over a healthier alternative like almonds and water, that’s all up to them and they shouldn’t be judged for their choices.

Having the opportunity to buy snacks like this could even help students make it through their day. College life can be stressful with multiple classes, daily homework assignments and tests, which can really drag a person down. Sometimes, students might benefit from the caffeine perk of an energy drink or soda to keep them awake during a long class. Or maybe they’re upset about bombing an exam and need cheering up in the form of sugar. If it takes a package of Twizzlers or a bag of M&Ms to brighten someone’s mood after a difficult day, they should be able to buy them.    

It’s true that junk food and energy drinks have drawbacks. Most junk food is loaded with unnecessary amounts of sugar, fat and calories that can cause weight gain and contribute negatively to certain health conditions such as diabetes. Energy drinks have been linked to even more dangerous issues such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety and even cardiac arrest, according to a report on caffeineinformer.com. Taking these fact into consideration, it seems logical to stop selling these items at school if they can cause so many health problems.   

However, these factors shouldn’t provide reason to start pulling items off the shelves. These are the long-term effects of products. A student won’t gain five pounds by eating one Snickers bar, nor will they suffer a heart attack from one Red Bull. The key is moderation, and it’s up to students to decide what’s enough for them to handle. It should also be noted that simply because the school stops selling processed products, this doesn’t mean students won’t bring them from home, they just won’t have such easy access.

In the end, it’s the student’s choice whether they think it’s a good idea to buy junk food instead of something healthier, or whether they want to chug an energy drink instead of buying a coffee from the café. The school should be able to provide students with these options.

“No”

Armani Jackson, Managing Editor

Every day, college students are expected to attend classes, complete all required assignments and keep up with outside responsibilities. When they have that much to keep track of, they can feel overwhelmed and their health is usually the first thing to suffer.

Besides schedule conflicts and crippling anxiety, college students are typically poor. According to stageoflife.com, 60 percent of students don’t receive financial assistance from their parents. If students don’t have the time or money to cook for themselves, chances are they don’t have time to get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night. The lack of sleep can drive one to purchase the oh so over glorified “magic” beverage – an energy drink. A manufactured and artificially caffeinated drink couldn’t be that bad; Pierce probably wouldn’t sell them if they were.

According to U.S. News, the sales of energy drinks grew 60 percent between 2008 and 2012 and a market value of $12.5 billion, with an expected growth rate of at least $21 billion by 2017. Even though these products sell well, that doesn’t mean they’re good for the body. These beverages sell because they’re addictive and are viewed as the perfect solution, when in reality they’ll only temporarily solve a permanent problem.

They contain outrageous levels of sugar, another problem within itself. Sugar is an addictive drug and when ingested, triggers the release of dopamine—a signal that makes a person happy.

It’s not only what’s in the drinks but the frequency at which college students drink them. When students are running late or are tired, it’s common to grab one on the way out the door and have that instead of a quality breakfast.

According to The Daily Nexus, “consuming sugar in place of balanced meals can impair cognitive function because when you become resistant to insulin, the insulin receptors in your brain stop working properly.”

Not only are students stunting their learning, they’re also not helping their hunger in the slightest. Sugar doesn’t fill a person’s stomach. All it does is provide unnecessary calories with no nutritional benefit.

Energy drinks are a psychoactive drug. This means it’s a chemical that affects a person’s nervous system and alters brain function. The temporary energy spike a person feels afterward is the aftermath of a drug on the brain.

These drinks are everywhere and it can be tempting to buy one when the longest time spent sleeping was 15 minutes in a parked car. However, they aren’t put out there to help the student body. The only reason these are made so easily available is because they make money, and in the U.S. corporate greed is everything.

Vending machines, the bookstore and the dining commons all sell the forbidden drug of processed food. Each package of chips and candy contains enough chemicals, including salt and sugar, to sustain the Dead Sea.

According to marketplace.org, processed foods make up 70 percent of the average American’s diet. It’s the high sugar content that keeps people coming back. This addiction has a neurological hold and companies use that fact to determine the most effective way to light up a person’s brain like a Christmas tree. Sugar, as it turns out, has the same effect on the brain as cocaine.

Energy drinks, processed food and sugar overdoses are one of the most efficient ways to kill someone’s brain, which is quickly followed by the rest of the body. So if someone is looking to avoid the high stress of college life, they can spend money on artificial energy and cheap drugs and be dead before the next assignment is due.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Fightin’ Words: Should the college sell high-sugar and energy drinks, and other processed foods?

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