A type of beverage consumed to get an instant mental and physical stimulation is referred to as energy drink. Some of the most popular drinks known to give wings to their consumers include Red Bull, Adrenaline Rush, Erektus, Venom and ISO Sprint. In the US, people in quest of quick gratification take to addiction of some form of energy boosters through coffee, tea and highly caffeinated energy drinks. Energy drinks are very popular among young and adults both; especially adolescents and young adults drink the energy beverages at a shocking rate. The easy availability of energy drinks in the market also contributes to its growing popularity and addiction. T. E. Sather states that the advertisement of energy drinks promises that the drinks "will give you a boost of energy"(T. E. Sather) and the energy is delivered through high dosage of concentrated caffeine and other additives. Energy drinks due to its high content of caffeine, sugar and other chemicals have many negative effects which make the need for a solution necessary.
- The High Content of Caffeine
Energy drinks contain a lot of stimulant drugs including caffeine, b vitamins, taurine, glucuronolactone, sugar, artificial sweeteners, inositol, l-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, inositol and ginseng. However, the most alarming is the amount of caffeine used in the drinks. The amount of caffeine used in the energy drinks far outweighs the amount found in tea, coffee and soft drinks like Coca-Cola. Many energy drinks have 2-3 times the amount of caffeine found in a cup of coffee. Sometimes the energy beverages contain more coffee than mentioned on the labels because many supplements such as kola nut, guaranà and yerba mate used in those beverages carry considerable amount of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system of our body and narrows the blood vessels passing through the heart and brain. It results in an increase in heart rate. Therefore, caffeine can lead to serious cardiovascular complications if caffeine infused drink is taken regularly. Caffeine also increases the rate of production of urine and hence drinking beverages that contain higher amount of caffeine can cause dehydration too. Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, palpitations, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains and neurologic symptoms, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (Bill Radford).
- Drink Mixing and Accidents
Energy drinks are often used as drink mixers. It has turned into a fashion these days to mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages to derive an extra stimuli. Dr. Yifrah Kaminer who is a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics has expressed his concern for spiking energy drinks with alcohol stating how this combination is likely to increase the number of alcohol-related injuries. Despite the punch of energy drinks, alcohol will still make the similar impact. So one who has drunk a combination of alcohol and energy drinks might feel that his senses are not numbed and he is alert but in reality he is as impaired as a drunk. So he might remain awake and try driving, but owing to drinking alcohol his motor skill will be impaired, increasing the chances of his making accidents.
- Addiction in Youngsters
Energy drinks are typically very popular among youngsters in the US with 66% of its consumers hovering between 13 - 35 years of age. Energy drinks are addictive especially for youngsters. The primary market of energy drinks is targeted at teens and college goers. They do not know how to moderately consume energy drink. A nutrition consultant and associate professor of biology at the University of Colorado, Jackie Berning states, "I'm appalled at the amount that these young adults are consumingI've seen them show up at an 8 o'clock class popping three Red Bulls so they could make it through the morning" (Bill Radford). The excessive amount of consumption of energy drinks causes high amount of caffeine in the body and the body gets accustomed to high caffeine levels, leading to addiction over time. If energy drinks are taken with alcohol then caffeine prevents the depressing effect of alcohol and allows a person to drink for a longer period of time. For this reason many young people drink alcohol with energy drinks. Since both alcohol and energy drinks are diuretic, the combined effect of them aggravates the state of dehydration.
- Weight Gain
Energy drinks are conducive to weight gain and obesity because of the excessive amount of sugar and artificial sweeteners used in them. Normal average person who fights to keep calorie count under check might pile on more weight due to the addiction of drinking energy beverages. Energy drinks may serve the same purpose of junk food in adding extra kilos. Most of the time people resort to energy drinks to combat sleep to remain awake through the night and such dose of high calorie content at the dead of night might boost up the weight gain.
- Harmful for People with History of Health Problems
Energy drinks could be quite detrimental for people with the health history of liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, seizures, hyperthyroidism, mood and behavioral disorders and renal disease. Though the caffeine content used in soft drinks is regulated by FDA, there is no such regulation on the use of caffeine in energy drinks. Therefore, the consumption of energy drinks may worsen the state of people with epilepsy and seizure history especially if they consume the drink in sleep deprived state. The high amount of sugar present in energy beverages may exacerbate the condition of people suffering from liver or renal disease and diabetes.
- Harmful during Pregnancy
Energy drinks are harmful for pregnant women. The main ingredients of any energy drink are augar, vitamin, A, C and E, caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, creatine etc. Sugar is required during pregnancy and hence consumption of moderate quantity of sugar from energy drinks will cause no harm. However, energy drinks are not at all recommended for women going through gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Further, the intake of caffeine or guarana of more than 300 mg per day increases the chances of miscarriage significantly (Carolyn Roy-Bornstein). Any typical bottle of energy drink contains at least 200 mg of caffeine and because of the high caffeine content energy drinks should be avoided during pregnancy.
As of now, there are no age restriction or warning labels placed on energy drinks in the US due to which its side effects impact both young and adults. In the wake of some unfortunate incidents resulting in the death of some youngsters allegedly of energy drink consumption, countries like France and Germany have prohibited the sale of certain energy drinks like Red Bull and others. Some countries including Australia and New Zealand have imposed certain regulations on the manufacturing and sale of energy drinks. They have even restricted the amount of caffeine to be used in the energy beverages. Though the energy drink companies market their products as 'dietary supplements, over a time many reports have brought forth the side effects of consuming energy drinks. Therefore, I think in order to arrest the situation it is important to put restriction on its sale and manufacturing. The caffeine amount should be regulated by FDA. Warning labels, consumption guidelines and age limit of minimum 18 years should be placed on the drinks. Further, these caffeinated beverages should be moderated or banned from school vending machines and cafeterias to restrict consumption of caffeine by teenagers.
Energy drinks used as energy boosters by young and old have many side effects. High amount of caffeine used in energy drinks leads to a lot of many health complications. Mixing the drinks with alcohol compounds its side effects and increases the risk of accidents. These drinks being available in the all places with no age restriction has led to its addiction among children and adolescents. The high amount of sugar in these drinks contributes to weight gain. People with history of health problems might have their condition worsen due to drinking this type of beverage. It is also harmful for women during pregnancy. Taking into account the negative effects of the energy drinks it is the need of the hour to impose some restriction on the sale, manufacturing, caffeine content of the drinks. Also an age limit should be placed to keep teens and adolescents out of harm’s way.
Radford, Bill. Negative Energy? ; Drinks deliver caffeine jolt; just don't overdo, The Gazette, Dec 11, 2006. Freedom Newspapers Inc, Colorado Springs, Retrieved on 3rd June 2013 from <http://search.proquest.com/docview/268278579?accountid=1172>
Roy-Bornstein, Carolyn. Just Say No to Energy Drinks, Pediatrics for Parents, Inc. Aug 2011. Retrieved on 3rd June 2013 from <http://search.proquest.com/docview/1017696040?accountid=1172>
Sather, T E. The Dangers of Energy Drinks and Supplements, Feb 2013. Retrieved on 3rd June 2013 from <http://search.proquest.com/docview/1326330751?accountid=1172>
Energy Drinks Busting Your Health for the Buzz, Pennsylvania Medical Society, September 2008. Retrieved on 3rd June 2013 from <http://newswise.com/articles/view/544512/>