The Dangers of Energy Drinks

kids-with-energy-drinkAlright, Parents, what do you think about when your child presents with these symptoms?

SYMPTOMS: Insomnia, anxiety, headache, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.

There are probably many possibilities but a likely culprit is consumption of energy drinks. Energy drinks were first introduced in the late 1980’s and presently bring in $5 billion a year. They have grown to their current popularity by focusing their marketing to adolescents.

Energy drinks are basically caffeinated beverages containing 160-500 mg of caffeine per serving. This is equal to 2-6 cups of coffee. Many also contain other poorly regulated ingredients including guarana and sugar. Guarana contains the substance guaranine, another source of caffeine. So, if an energy drink contains caffeine and guarana, it contains caffeine plus more caffeine. Also, energy drinks typically have twice the daily recommended sugar. This can lead to obesity and dental health problems.

Energy drinks are also typically mixed with alcohol. Due to the caffeine, adolescents perceive less of an effect from alcohol. This can lead to a higher incidence of alcohol related consequences including:

  • being taken advantage of sexually
  • taking advantage of another personal sexually
  • riding in a car with a driver under the influence
  • being hurt or injured, and requiring medical attention

Energy drinks may provide some therapeutic benefits including increased wakefulness, focus and performance enhanced exercise. However, given the large amount of caffeine along with the poorly regulated amounts of additives that can lead to unwanted symptoms and consequences, the risks far outweigh the benefits.