Doctors Call on FDA for Stricter Regulation of Energy Drinks

Cans of sweet drinks (or beer)

A group of physicians, researchers and public health experts submitted a plea, urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against the “dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks.” They have suggested the FDA “require that manufacturers include caffeine content on product labels,” and applying caffeine restriction standards to energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages. The letter, addressed to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA, outlined the health complications associated with consuming too much caffeine – especially for children and adolescents.

Concern over energy drinks began to mount after the media reported several energy-drink related deaths.

Higher doses of caffeine have been associated with a form of intoxication, which causes potentially dangerous elevated heart rates, high blood pressure, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, and electrolyte imbalances. For older adults, higher levels of caffeine before or during exercise may increase the risk of a heart attack. Energy drinks have also been connected to an increased risk of seizures and obesity.

In 2011, there were 20,783 emergency room visits related to energy drink consumption – this compares to 10,068 in 2007. Many who sought help had an existing heart condition or had consumed an energy drink with alcohol or while exercising.

The FDA currently says that it is safe for adults to consume 400 mg of caffeine daily, though some experts think that number could be higher. However, the harmful effects of energy drinks are especially apparent in children and adolescents, a population where energy drinks are growing in popularity: 35% of eighth graders and 29% of both tenth and twelfth graders have reported drinking an energy drink in the past year; 18% of eighth graders reported using one or more drinks every day.

Experts are especially concerned about caffeine exposure in children and adolescents because they tend to be more sensitive to caffeine and its effects. Furthermore, they claim that energy drink companies heavily market their products to adolescents, driving sales. The US energy drink industry is expected to reach $19.7 billion in sales by 2013.

If you’re concerned about the health risks of energy drinks, consider alternatives. In order to generate a more genuine energy boost, learn about three natural alternatives to energy drinks instead of relying on that caffeine. Also, if you or your loved ones do consume energy drinks, learn more about choosing energy drinks safely and wisely.