Energy Drinks: A Deadly Amount of Caffeine?

When I have to, I bring my son with me to the supermarket. One little activity that makes it all bearable (for the both of us) is a game we play in which we spot the junkiest of the junk food. This is pretty easy with junk food targeted to children, as it is usually resplendent with all manner of cartoon characters and carnival-like colors. But with junk food geared towards adults, it is a little trickier. I usually bring my son over to the energy drink aisle and show him all manner of drinks in shiny cans and bottles with claw marks and flames. I explain, as I always do, that these are the sorts of things that draw adults in to such products. To him, they are not so appealing…at least not yet.

But these highly caffeinated energy drinks are hugely popular with adults, and teenagers alike, and they are not all that good for you. Recent reports allege that a 14-year-old Maryland girl died for heart arrhythmia after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy, a hugely popular energy drink. A lawsuit was filed against Monster (a suitable name in this case) claiming that the company failed to warn of the potential risks of this drink.

And what are those risks? Most of it has to do with the excessive amounts of caffeine in these popular energy drinks. The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is hard to pin down, because many are marketed as supplements, rather than as foods, allowing them to wiggle around FDA regulations and labeling laws. The FDA does not allow soda to have more than 0.02 percent caffeine, but energy drinks aren’t subject to this limit. When consumed in large quantities, caffeine can pose risks to anyone, especially young people and people with existing heart problems. And as anyone who has had too much coffee knows, caffeine interferes with sleep; it can cause anxiety, raise heartbeats and increase the risk of dehydration. Health and nutritional experts have long been critical of such energy drinks warning of the many dangers associated with even moderate consumption for young people. In 2011, the Journal of Pediatrics published a report titled “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults” warning that the consequences included “palpitations, seizures, strokes, and even sudden death.”

Calls for bans of such energy drinks, along with lawsuits, have gained volume in the last few years, and are fueled by reports and incidents such as the ones mentioned above. How do you feel about such products making it into young hands? Should the companies who make such products be held responsible for the results of the overconsumption, or adverse effects, of their products? Should parents be keeping such items out of the hands on their children?

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36 comments

Lydia Price

Thank you, I did not realize how dangerous these could be for children. My condolences to the dear little girl's family.

Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath3 years ago

It gave me heart palpitations!

katarzyna phillips

i’m sorry but i’ve never come across so much bs in my life! I honestly don’t know what you Americans are doing because in this country, the UK, it is ILLEGAL for anyone under the age of 16 to buy such drinks! and on them, they state to such extent of wording [i don’t have a can to hand] that they should not be drunk by anyone under the age of 16 and that the can is sufficient and no more should be drunk and so moderation is severely advised, especially those with diabetes, heart conditions and some other illnesses. really sorry for the Maryland girl, but to be honest, who gave her the money to buy them? where were her parents? why was she so thirsty that she felt the need to drink 44 oz of energy drink?! was it maybe peer pressure? problems at home? undiagnosed medical condition? the fact that you don’t have a correct legal system for such drinks? if you had warning signs on it and age restrictions then this sad case would be a stand-alone case. i have not heard of ANYONE in the UK dying as a result of an energy drink. everything in moderation was how i was told, shame this wasn’t the case for this young girl

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Eric, for Sharing this!

Tamara Mendelson
Tamara Mendelson3 years ago

I've never even touched one, and now I feel grateful

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

scary

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia3 years ago

I like my energy drinks from time-to-time but I exercise common sense. One can, that's it. Also, when I was a cashier, if a saw parents buying it for kids, I would ask if they knew what it was. If they did not, and all cases but one they didn't, I explained it and they always were very grateful for the information and put it back. The one parent who knew what it was and was still buying it for their child said, "I know, it comes him down". Yeah... Oh, and Monster DOES print a warning right on the side of the can.

William and Kat Dresbach
Katie D.3 years ago

And In Ohio they can be Purchased with your Welfare Card!
No questions asked! Terrible!
No Food Value for Health!
Makes No Sense at all!

Harriet J. B.
Harriet J. B.3 years ago

If you want caffeine, DRINK COFFEE!!!

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim3 years ago

Energy drinks? For what? I prefer my juices because I do not like drinking crap.