Energy Drink Crisis

An unshaven, slovenly guy flops around on a sofa. His clean-cut, leaner handsome  twin appears trying to get him off the sofa and into motion by offering the sloth an energy drink while a beautiful girl smiles beside him. He drinks it, hoping he, too can get the girl. Great. All we need is more pushing of these energy drinks.

Energy drinks are big. From students doing all-nighters to tired parents trying to make it through the day, they're huge. But, energy drinks have caused over 1000 emergency room visits in our country. Young kids have died. And, these beverages offer no redeeming value. Enough. We have to be smarter than these commercials.

These drinks promise a big boost of energy, but what do you actually get? Some contain caffeine equal to 5 cups of coffee in one drink. That's not only crazy, but it's more than enough caffeine to cause nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and an increase in blood pressure. Unfortunately, the amount of caffeine in these drinks is not regulated because they are classified as a dietary supplement. On the other hand, the FDA holds the reins on caffeine in the soda industry; soda is considered a food. In addition to caffeine, the stimulants guarana, taurine and ginseng often are added. Guarana is the herbal equivalent of caffeine, but 2.5 times stronger. Alone and added together, these stimulants increase health risks for cardiac patients and those with high blood pressure; they are the root cause of the upsurge in use and in ER visits. High does of stimulants including caffeine could result in seizure, stroke, mania, and sudden death in these higher risk people.

And then there's the sugar. These drinks contain as much or more sugar than soda. The surging sugar intake of our population has been directly correlated to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Energy drinks can go on the list that contributes to our obesity epidemic. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of energy drinks in children. They also recommend that adolescents limit caffeine consumption to 100 mg each day. Unfortunately, it's impossible to know the total amount caffeine and other stimulants in these drinks because that information is doesn't have to be on the label. That needs to change, and warnings need to be stated in bold, clear letters.

These adolescents and young adults have another challenge. Some are adding alcohol to energy drinks, which tends to diminish the intoxicated feeling. Heavier drinking and alcohol related accidents follow in these wide awake drunks.

If you're tired, avoid the energy drinks. A cup of tea or coffee would be fine for most of us. It's best to focus on your overall wellness by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy, nutrition diet. If that doesn't help, sure to see your doctor.

Some way, some how, we have to convince children, parents and all adults that energy drinks are not a good choice. Now, how about a nice cup of green tea?