Recent Study Shows That Energy Drinks Are Dangerous for Teenagers
A new study sheds light on the potential hazards that energy drinks might have on children, with extra attention given to the mix between energy drinks and alcohol. The paper was published in the journal Pediatrics in Review, in February 2013. The paper consists of a compilation of already existing research. The conclusion is that caffeine beverages are the cause of obesity, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and various other medical issues in teenagers. According to the authors, if these drinks are combined with alcohol, they pose a potential danger for teenagers.
Dr Kwabena Blankson, a specialist in adolescent medicine says that there are far better ways to recover energy than drinking energy drinks that contain excessive amounts of caffeine and other additives. He mentions adequate sleep, healthy eating and a good exercise routine as healthy energy regeneration methods. In her opinion, parents and doctors alike should be constantly supervising the behavior of teenagers and inform them about the dangers of energy drinks whilst suggesting healthier alternatives.
Numerous precedent surveys show that approximately 50% of teenagers consume these beverages on a regular basis. Blankson reports that 500 ml cans of Monster Energy, Rockstar or Red Bull contain up to 160 milligrams of caffeine. Another energy drink, Cocaine, which was banned back in 2007, contains 280 milligrams of caffeine in 250 ml cans. These values were then compared to the values of a normal cup of coffee, which only contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine. According to Blankson, excessive amounts of caffeine can have bad side effects. Researchers note that anything over 100 milligrams of caffeine per day is considered to be unhealthy for teenagers. The fact that energy drinks also contain guarana, ginseng, sugar and are most often served cold enhances the effect of caffeine.
“We don’t know what these additives do to the body after periods of extended use”, said Blankson. Furthermore, students from 10 universities in North Carolina were interviewed; almost 25% of them admitted to have consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol in the past month. Several students from New Jersey and Washington were hospitalized from drinking energy beverages mixed with alcohol. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is in charge with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability and cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses, the number of hospitalized teenagers due to energy drinks abuse has doubled between 2007 and 2011. Moreover, almost 40% of the cases were also linked to either drugs or alcohol.
The latest report reveals that an unnamed energy drink, that’s sold in 23.5 fl oz cans, contains the same amount of caffeine as 5 coffee cups and the same amount of alcohol as a six-pack of beer. However, ABA (American Beverage Association) responded to the accusations of this study. Regarding this issue, an ABA spokesperson released a statement on Thursday, saying that “This paper contains misinformation about energy drinks and does nothing to address the very serious problem of underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption among young adults”, whilst adding that the majority of energy drinks on the market only contain around half the amount of caffeine found in coffee cups from coffeehouses. A recommendation has been issued by the ABA regarding the fact that all energy drink companies should have labels that state the exact amount of caffeine contained by their beverages, whilst also informing the buyer that the drink is not recommended for pregnant women, children or caffeine-sensitive people.
According to Dr Sean Patrick Nordt, who is the director of the toxicology section of USC (University of South California), these drinks appear to be “relatively safe”, if consumed only occasionally. However, he states that these beverages should be better viewed as medication, and they should never be combined with illegal drugs or alcohol.