They are expensive, easily attainable, and seen in the hands of most high school and college students, especially around exam time. You see them at most all bars, clubs, and social party scenes, and they can weigh heavily on one's wallet. You may think I am referring to some sort of illegal drug or prescription medication, but instead this blog focuses on the negative impact energy drinks are imposing in today's society.
These super caffeinated drinks go by the names of Red Bull, Full Throttle, Monster, etc., and have become a highly consumed commodity. About one third of 12-25 yr. olds say they consume these types of energy drinks on a regular basis. The American population consumes about 3 billion dollars' worth of these drinks on an annual basis. This popular trend has been a large source of growing concern among health researchers and school officials. Around the US these energy drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms, and many emergency room visits.
For all of those who need actual examples of the negative impact these drinks can have here you have it:
In Colorado Springs, several high school students in 2010 became ill after drinking Spike Shooter, which was a high-caffeine energy drink recently banned from production in the US. In March 2010, four middle school students in Broward County, Fla., went to the emergency room with heart palpitations, and severe sweating after drinking the energy beverage Redline. Another report coming from Boston, Ma was about a 21 yr. old man who was brought to the emergency room by his roommate after drinking an energy drink called Cocaine. He arrived at the ER with complains of increased sweating and a bounding pulse.
The energy drink labeled Cocaine, was created by Redux beverages in Las Vegas, and is claiming to provide its consumers a legal version of the illegal substance in a drink form. Jamey Kirby, who is the creator of the energy drink Cocaine, explains that his idea for this drink came while brainstorming product ideas at 1am. The drink claims to be 350 times stronger than a Red Bull, and delivers its consumer a euphoric buzz without the crash. Not surprisingly the energy drink Cocaine was soon pulled from the US shelves. Unfortunately, in 2007, the same drink was allowed to continue production under another name, well, with the name "no name" to be exact. As of today, the drink Cocaine has come back to haunt our shelves, now with a very informative and helpful warning message stating: "this message is for the people who are too stupid to recognize the obvious. This product does not contain cocaine (duh). This product is not intended to be an alternative to an illicit street drug, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot." Hmm...maybe it should say anyone who buys this product is an idiot..
So..what's in these drinks? Well, there are a variety of ingredients in different combinations: plant-based stimulants like guarana, herbs like ginkgo and ginseng, sugar, amino acids including taurine, but the main active ingredient is caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine to be exact.
Although, the specific caffeine content varies from can to can. A 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 mg of caffeine, compared with 34 to 38 mg for the same amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Monster has 120 mg and Red Bull has 116. Even higher on the spectrum, Spike Shooter contains 428 mg of caffeine in 12 ounces, and Wired X344 contains 258.
According to the American Journal of Medicine caffeine is not recommended as a daily supplement, and should absolutely not exceed 300mg in any 24hr period, and should definitely not be consumed by children or adolescents, because of the harmful physical harnessing effects it imposes on physical development. So, apparently there is more caffeine in one 12oz energy drink than an adult should be consuming all day! The worst part is the majority of energy drink consumers are adolescents and young adults, who should not even be consuming any caffeine to begin with.
If all the above doesn't prove what a massive negative impact energy drinks have on today's society, one of the most disturbing pieces of information is the increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. According to an April 2006 study in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages can be dangerous, ultimately making alcohol users feel less drunk. Unfortunately, feeling less drunk doesn't mean you are less drunk, because motor coordination and visual reaction time are just as impaired as if you drank the alcohol alone. This feeling of being less drunk is ultimately leading to more drunk individuals getting behind the wheel a car.
When a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola (marketer for Full Throttle) was approached with questions regarding the negative medical impact their energy drinks where having on today's youth, her response was "they don't encourage consumers to mix the drinks with alcohol, and we expect consumers to enjoy our products responsibly." Maybe someone should have asked her to drink a can of her own product..