They Give You Wings

October 11, 2010
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Energy drinks, are a new beverage that appeal to people of all ages. Although not many people know what they are actually drinking, most are aware that energy drinks pack the same effects as drugs; the drink can cause you to act irresponsibly, impair your judgment, and harm your body. At the same time, energy drinks have a great taste and aren’t very expensive. As a result, they are getting more and more popular every day.
So what is really in an energy drink? The caffeine content of energy drinks varies from 50 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams per serving. A regular 12-ounce cola drink has about 35 milligrams of caffeine, and a 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine (Parker-Pope). There is a major caffeine difference in the drinks, and yet all three beverages are nearly the same price and size. Another ingredient found in energy drinks that sets them apart from other beverages is taurine. The key ingredient in the energy drink is taurine, an amino acid that was first discovered in bulls (Wong). With that in mind, taurine is responsible for the urban legend that the key ingredient in energy drinks is bull urine. Besides caffeine and taurine, another important ingredient packed in to energy drinks is sugar. Energy drinks contain an enormous amount of sugar and caffeine, and a professor of behavior biology, Roland Griffiths says, “The caffeine (and sugar) amounts are often unlabeled, and few include warnings about the potential health risks of caffeine intoxication.” Since some energy drinks contain the caffeine equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, this is a serious problem.
Other countries throughout the world had faced energy drinks years before us. Red Bull was introduced to Europe in 1987 and to the United States in 1997 (Wong). Only a decade ago, energy drinks were almost nonexistent in the United States, but in the past five years they’ve become wildly popular (Martin). Although coffee has been around longer, energy drinks are selling like crazy, and it’s uncertain what you are actually buying and putting in your body, unlike coffee, which is far more reliable to your health. Energy drinks are a new and popular craze.
Despite the popularity and generally good taste of energy drinks, there are many serious downfalls that come attached with them. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases caffeine intoxication is marked by nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, rapid heartbeats, restlessness and pacing, and in rare cases, even death. (Lutz). Another downfall is the immediate crash following the quick boost of energy given by energy drinks. Ginseng and taurine can also send mixed messages to the nervous system and cause cardiac problems, especially when many young adults mix energy drinks with alcohol. They believe energy drinks will offset the strength of alcohol, when it really puts you at risk for a heart attack.
With all the danger involved in energy drinks, advertisers have an important job to do when it comes to promoting the product. The media advertises energy drinks in such a way that makes them seem appealing and safe to everyone. Advertisers use catchy slogans like, “Red Bull gives you wings!” Energy drink industries withhold the dangers of energy drinks and do not properly label the side effects of their products. Not to mention the $3.4 billion energy drink market is expected to double this year alone, and the younger generation is the market targeted by manufacturers (Martin).
So you might ask, “Why aren’t there any law regulations on energy drinks?” The truth is, there are. France, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, Uruguay, and Iceland have banned high caffeine/taurine energy drinks altogether (Lutz). This is understandable, because the when countries fount about recent deaths linked to energy drinks, it isn’t very unlikely governments wouldn’t take a stand against them. Yet, there are currently no bans on energy drinks in the U.S. Anyone of any age can buy energy drinks, even when they are just as, if not worse, than alcohol.
People continue to drink energy drinks even when they’re aware of the problems they cause. Many people drink them for the cool titles like “Monster” and “Rockstar”, or just for a quick surge of energy. Studies show men use energy drinks more frequently then women (Miller). This could be because men generally play more sports and find better reasons for using energy drinks non-stop. But in the end, it’s the same basic principle as smokers; they know how bad they are, but choose to do it anyway.
However, energy drinks are a profitable business and are not likely to be shut down any time soon. With all the short-term benefits of energy drinks, people will still enjoy them occasionally. Since there are no laws banning energy drinks in America, the people are free to drink whatever they want. No matter how unhealthy they may or may not be, energy drinks are here to stay.

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