National Consumers League

Teens do not realize dangers of energy drinks

Many student athletes are loading up on highly caffeinated energy drinks before practices and competitions.  In some cases, parents are providing these beverages.  What both the parents and teens may not realize is that energy drinks are leading to death, especially among individuals with heart complications or defects. Too many young people are unknowingly hurting their bodies from energy drink overconsumption.

For starters, energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and are designed to be consumed more quickly than a cup of coffee or tea.  While some smaller servings of energy drinks contain less than 200 milligrams of caffeine, a normal amount to consume in a day according to doctors, many come in 20 - 24oz cans which contain far higher levels of caffeine.  Not to mention there are endless accounts of teens drinking multiple energy drinks at one time.  One product, Mio, comes in a small squeeze bottle and is intended to be added to water.  The entire bottle in whole contains 18 servings coming in at around 1060mg of caffeine.  This sort of product is begging to be abused by students. 

High levels of caffeine in energy drinks aren’t the only dangerous component.  Thanks to loopholes and a lack of enforcement on behalf of FDA, energy drink companies use additives (like guarana and l-carnitine) that are not proven to be safe.  Not to mention that guarana contains caffeine that isn’t included in the total amount of caffeine.  Taurine, another common additive, also affects the heart and cardiovascular system.  Mysterious additives in combination with the tendency to consumer these beverages in large amounts lends to a rather dangerous brew. 

With so much contention surrounding youth consumption of energy drinks, why does the U.S. continuing to allow marketing and sales to minors?  In 2011, Canada set limits on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks. Canada also required on package labels that identify groups sensitive to caffeine and warning labels advising against mixing energy drinks with alcohol.  At the very least marketing to minors in the U.S. should be eliminated and age restrictions put in place on sales.