February, 2011 -- Some young people gulp drinks such as
Bull, Full Throttle and Rockstar to boost their energy,
concentration and athletic performance.
A review of the medical literature says energy drinks can
pose a danger to kids and young adults with serious medical
But the caffeinated energy drinks don't appear to provide
the purported benefits and can cause problems, including
serious medical complications, says a review of the scientific
literature published online today in Pediatrics.
The paper is already drawing criticism from the beverage
industry, which says energy drinks have no more caffeine
than a cup of coffee and aren't widely used by kids and
Steven Lipshultz, chair of pediatrics at the University
of Miami School of Medicine, and colleagues reviewed
121 scientific studies, government reports and media sources
on energy drinks — different from sports drinks, vitamin
waters and sodas.
Energy drinks usually contain 70 to 80 milligrams of caffeine
per 8-oz. serving, more than double many cola drinks. Energy
drinks also may contain guarana, a plant that contains caffeine,
taurine (an amino acid), vitamins, herbal supplements and
Surveys show that 30% to 50% of teens and young adults consume
energy drinks, but "we didn't see evidence that drinks
have beneficial effects in improving energy, weight loss,
stamina, athletic performance and concentration," Lipshultz
And the research shows that children and teens — especially
those with cardiovascular, renal or liver disease, seizures,
diabetes, mood and behavior disorders and hyperthyroidism
— are at a higher risk for health complications from
these drinks, says Lipshultz, a pediatric cardiologist.
He encourages pediatricians and parents to talk to kids
and teens about whether they should be drinking such beverages.
Maureen Storey of the American Beverage Association, an
industry group, said in a statement that "this literature
review does nothing more than perpetuate misinformation
about energy drinks, their ingredients and the regulatory
She says government data indicate that the "caffeine
consumed from energy drinks for those under the age of 18
is less than the caffeine derived from all other sources
including soft drinks, coffee and teas."
Red Bull said in a statement that the study "largely
ignores in its conclusions the genuine, scientifically rigorous
examination of energy drinks by reputable national authorities.
... The effects of caffeine are well-known, and as an 8.4-oz.
can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine
as a cup of coffee (80 milligrams), it should be treated
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