Energy drinks (e.g., Red Bull®, Monster®, Rockstar®, and Full Throttle®) are among the fastest growing beverages in the United States, with half of these highly caffeinated drinks being sold to youth. The caffeine content of an 8-ounce serving can range between 72 and 150 mg. However, most energy drinks come in cans or bottles with 2–3 servings, amounting to 450 mg of caffeine (general recommended intake is no more than 200–300 mg caffeine daily for adults)! There are no guidelines established in the United States for youth regarding caffeine consumption. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits caffeine content in soft drinks because they are categorized as “food,” caffeine in energy drinks is not “monitored” because they can be categorized as “dietary supplements.”
Energy drinks are promoted as a means to increase energy levels; however, there is little evidence to support this. With the large quantity of caffeine comes serious nutritional consequences. Large quantities of caffeine can hinder how well the body is able to absorb and use calcium, which can impact bone health. Additionally, high caffeine intake is associated with increased irritability, anxiety, tremors, heart rate, blood pressure, and sleep problems.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed concerns for youth because of caffeine’s effect on their developing neurological and cardiovascular systems, as well as the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Many of the “specialty” ingredients (e.g., guarana, taurana) found in energy drinks are also ingredients in over-the-counter diet drugs. This raises significant health concerns because it is unclear what combined health impact these ingredients may have.
Because of the potentially high caffeine content, it is recommended youth avoid energy drinks and healthy adults should limit their use. Teach youth to ask for and enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.
For more ideas on better or healthier beverage choices, please look at the MyPlate Better Beverage Choices Handout available at
www.choosemyplate.gov in English http://1.usa.gov/1k0nH4D and Spanish http://1.usa.gov/1IIhb0V.
Sources: http://bit.ly/1aOlBF1, http://bit.ly/1xYGmSp, http://bit.ly/1IIh05J, and http://1.usa.gov/Pog5yZ