Energy Drinks Come Under Review

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Energy Drinks Come Under Review

These days it is quite common to see so-called “energy drinks”, usually near the check out line, at grocery and convenient stores.  Energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster Energy, 5-Hour Energy and others are marketed as products that give an extra long lasting boost of energy in times when its needed.  It is big business.  Energy drinks are the fasted growing segment of the beverage industry with sales of over $10 billion dollars.

There are various combinations of ingredients in energy drink brands, most all of them have highly concentrated amounts of caffeine. Some other ingredients commonly found in varying degrees are guarana, L-Carnitine, ginseng, yohimbine and taurine.

Do they work? Are they safe?  More questions are being asked as these beverages become more popular and in some instances controversial.  This summer behavioral science researchers at Centre College conducted a study using energy drinks to determine their impact on brain activity.  Surprisingly, few researchers have explored this area.  Centre College’s researchers found did not find any difference between energy drinks in participants’ physical reaction times than in placebo drinks.  That study can be found at: http://www.centre.edu/news/2013/skogsberg_energydrinks.html

There is growing concern over the safety of energy drinks resulting in legal claims implicating energy drinks to deaths due to heart attacks, seizures and other serious cardiac symptoms. As energy drinks are marketed to teenagers and young adults, a recent lawsuit alleges that a 14-year-old girl died of cardiac arrhythmia caused by the highly concentrated amount of caffeine in an energy drink. See http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/05/07/57384.htm

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also getting involved as it is receiving more reports claiming deaths and serious injuries related to the use of energy drinks. To review a summary of the reports received by the FDA over the past years regarding energy drinks go to http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CFSAN/CFSANFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/UCM328270.pdf Recently, Wrigley introduced an “energy gum” with a high dose of caffeine to consumers that has caused the FDA to further investigate the safety of high doses of caffeine. http://tbo.com/energy-gum-prompts-fda-review-of-caffeine-in-food-b82485343z1 The New York Attorney General’s Office is investigating marketing and other practices of energy drink manufacturers as well. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444230504577615690249123150.html

If you enjoy some form of caffeine (like me) use caution in the amount you consume on a daily basis and take extra care in consuming beverages with high concentrations of caffeine such as those found in energy drinks.  There are energy drinks that market other ingredients than high doses of caffeine. For a general discussion of those ingredients see Barry Meier’s New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/health/scant-proof-is-found-to-back-up-claims-by-energy-drinks.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com