What are you really getting in an “energy drink”? It’s more than energy and more likely lots of extra sugar and caffeine and the potential for serious health problems. Energy drinks are overused and can be dangerous for children and teens in particular. Many people wonder if the growth in the energy drink market will die out or is it just a fad? These drinks were introduced more than 20 years ago and are the fastest growing in the U.S. beverage market; 2011 sales are expected to top $9 billion.
The potential dangers include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death according to the journal Pediatrics and author David Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami Medical School. Based on research, it is estimated that about one-third of teens and young adults regularly consume energy drinks, often combining them with alcohol increasing the danger considerably.
Recently a 14-year-old girl from Maryland died last December after drinking two Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour-period. After she drank the drinks — which together contained 480 milligrams of caffeine — she went into cardiac arrest a day later and died from cardiac arrhythmia presumably from caffeine toxicity.
The amount of caffeine in these two energy drinks is about the same as found in 14 cans of Coca-Cola and that amount is almost five times the recommended limit as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But caffeine poisoning is not uncommon in the U.S. It has been reported that caffeine-poisoning cases have increased significantly over the last few years, from 1,128 in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009. Many students use these beverages for a quick boost before an exam or soccer game, or even to stay up to study.
Some high schools are banning energy drinks from games and practices based on the potential medical consequences. These drinks may pose more dangers than the recent use of steroids in high schools
Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar were the drinks banned by one school district in Virginia. They stated that “there is no regulatory control over energy drinks, thus their content and purity cannot be ensured”.
According to mayoclinic.com, Coca-Cola Classic and Pepsi both contain just less than three milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce. Red Bull and Rockstar contain just less than nine milligrams per ounce, while Monster contains just fewer than 10.
College students and athletes also use energy drinks. The NCAA bans stimulants, including caffeine, at concentrations exceeding 15 micrograms per milliliter in urine.
Parents, coaches, and trainers should be informed of the potential harm of these products and be sure to warn their children and students before any more health problems arise . Unfortunately, it appears this “fad” is here to stay.