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The murky waters of the food industry

Middlebury University, stationed in Vermont, has recently banned energy drinks from being sold on campus. This is due to the conclusions of erratic studies that neither prove nor disprove negative side-effects, such as bad study habits from energy drink consumption.

Energy drinks are the bread-and-butter for some university students, particularly during heightened stress periods over the course of a semester. Since the caffeine-ridden drinks are not explicitly prohibited on campus grounds, students may buy them elsewhere.

However, this issue does not simply affect caffeine consumption on college campuses. It speaks to the rights of adult students, who all presumably pay for an education and college experience, not to be coddled.

A university’s responsibility is to successfully educate its students, who are essentially their clients. However, Middlebury is attempting to govern its student population and regulate their health habits.

Dietitian Andy Bellatti stated that, “The food industry thrives on confusion, and it loves to propagate the notion that ‘Gee whiz, one day you’re told coffee is good for you, the next day you’re told it’s unhealthy!’”

These methods efficiently manipulate the public through fear tactics and sensationalism. Therefore, anyone with an agenda can pick and choose from the plethora of studies – some unsanctioned by the medical community – that support their particular cause as correct.

It seems like a daily occurrence that studies come out revealing one product may cause heart failure and another decreases the risk. More often than not, there will be conflicting reports regarding the same food.

For instance, there are some who would claim that any sort of animal product is unhealthy, while the other camp would argue the exact opposite. How do we determine who is right or wrong? Regarding this issue, it almost doesn’t matter.

Let’s examine the colorful history of the health industry’s opinion of eggs. There has been a distinct nutritionist crusade led to vilify eggs as a major cause of heart disease, although the majority of studies actually refute the claim.

As science can also be objective, and scientists are only human, therefore not infallible, those studies may be incorrect. Either way, which side should we believe? Which faction should colleges concur with?

I’d argue neither.

When a person is eating a bag of processed chips, full of sodium, preservatives and salt, there is no confusion in their mind that what they’re consuming is necessarily healthy, however as an adult human, that should be left as the individual’s choice.

As an institution garnered towards adults, the small step of banning energy drinks could then lead to much larger and more daunting embargoes. That is an unacceptable evolution of boundaries that higher education establishments should not be allowed to cross.