A study released last week by the federal government, suggests the number of emergency room visits (over a 4-year period) seeking treatment after ingesting energy drinks doubled from 10,000 to more than 20,000. Most of these cases involved teenagers or young adults. In 2011, over 40% of cases involved energy drinks taken in combination with alcohol or prescription medicines Adderal and Ritalin (stimulants).
Read more about the study here.
The use of supplements, plants and derivatives, foods and over-the-counter medicines has been documented in competitive athletics for many years, typically in the high school level and above.
As related in a previous post, we discussed the need for parents, coaches, athletic trainers and other health professionals to be educated on what products athletes are asking for or interested in – try to stay ahead of the curve by reading the popular fitness magazine or checking out the local “health food” stores.
What has become apparent in just the recent past couple of years, is a general increase in the use of energy drinks by a much younger age group, such as middle school kids. The companies that make and sell these products (Monster, Full Throttle, Red Bull, for example) are using marketing plans (sponsoring concerts, races, droid apps, selling merch and swag) to attract a younger more youthful group of consumer – tobacco companies made this tactic very successful.
Beverage Digest reported a sales increase of 17% to $9 billion dollars last year of highly caffeinated soft drinks. This week, the two ounce shot, 5-Hour Energy, has been mentioned in some 90 FDA filings since 2009, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening events like heart attacks, convulsions, and in one case, a spontaneous abortion, the New York Times reported.
Whether or not the increased consumption by younger people is specifically for the purposes of performance enhancement makes no difference. The fact that kids are consuming energy drinks period should be of concern to parents.
1. Because energy drinks fall into the FDA’s category of supplements – which means the product is held to a less-constraining set of standards for ingredients, creating and content. Companies are not required to disclose the amount of any indgredient, although they are very quick to point out the high levels of vitamins contained in their products!
2. High level athletes are subject to drug testing which means they must be very cautious about their dietary consumption, especially unknown ingredients.
3. A few ingredients in supplements may present safety issues for some segments of the population because of special age or health considerations. Consumers of energy drinks may be at higher risk for health problems such as caffeine toxicity, nervousness, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures or even death.
For more information on dietary supplements, the content in these links has proven to be reliable and of sound science.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)
Eating For Exercising and Sports
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics