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Energy Drinks: Not so Silent Killers

Walk into any high school or college and one will undoubtedly find energy drinks. Energy drinks come in tall cans with garish designs and slogans designed to catch the attention of children and teenagers. But what are they? Commercials will tell you that just by drinking them you can stay up all night, ace a test, score with a girl, and be happy. Some even claim to give you superpowers. According to the advertising campaigns, energy drinks are equivalent to omnipotence in a can. But are energy drinks all they claim to be? The simple answer is no. Often energy drinks turn out to be little more than sugar and caffeine this makes energy drinks dangerous to consume and the distribution of them to minors should be regulated.
Before the 1990’s energy drinks were unheard of. The soft drink market was dominated by sodas of all kinds, Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper. But in 1997 a drink called Red Bull was invented. It was branded as an energy drink, and it sold phenomenally well. Since then the energy drink market has exploded. Dozens of energy drinks now exist including Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, Jolt, and Amp. These drinks claim to boost energy. The target audience for energy drinks is teenagers, especially college kids. In 2006 31% of teens under the age of 20 drank energy drinks regularly. That number has risen to 51%. In addition to drinking them on a regular basis, many teens drink them in large quantities, sometimes as many as two or three at a time, and often mix them with alcohol. Young people are targeted by the majority of energy drink advertising. Energy drink companies will claim that they advertise to college kids primarily, but many commercials feature high school age teens. This would not be a problem but for the fact that energy drinks are unholy concoctions that carry many serious health risks.
Energy drinks contain obscene amounts of caffeine and sugar. A can of regular soda like Coke or Pepsi contains on average 30 to 40 mg. of caffeine. A can of Monster, on the other hand, contains 160 mg. of caffeine. A can of Rockstar contains 170 mg. of caffeine. Many energy drinks contain over double the amount of caffeine in a shot of espresso (75 mg.). In addition to the sheer volume of caffeine, many energy drinks contain artificial stimulants like taurine and ginseng. As if the slew of chemicals wasn’t enough, many energy drinks also contain massive amounts of sugar. For example, one can of Monster contains over 50 grams of sugar. That’s almost a quarter cup of sugar!
Many health risks can result from ingesting that much caffeine and sugar in a short amount of time. People who drink energy drinks regularly often see a decrease in the amount of sleep they get every night, which has an immediate and detrimental impact on focus and overall health. Energy drinks also cause episodes known as “jolt and crash” episodes. A jolt and crash episode consists of the energy drink user experiencing a sudden burst, or jolt of energy, which only lasts a few hours before the consumer experiences a debilitating crash. These crashes are often accompanied by headaches and extreme fatigue.
In addition to these minor effects, energy drinks have the capability to seriously incapacitate and even kill. In a survey of about 500 college kids it was found that 19% of kids who drank energy drinks on a weekly basis had experienced some kind of heart palpitation. A heart palpitation is defined as any significant rise in heart rate, an irregular heart beat including a fluttering or pounding heart beat, and skipped beats. These palpitations can drastically increase the risk of heart problems including heart attacks.
Energy drinks have been compared to alcohol in terms of the health risks associated with drinking them. The difference is that alcohol is regulated in its sale and consumption and energy drinks are not, also alcohol is not marketed to minors. To curtail the consumption of energy drinks by teens limits should be placed on how many can be sold to any one underage person at any one time. A cap of three drinks per person at any one time would reduce the risk of over consumption. A legal drinking age for energy drinks should also be enforced. Considering the dangers of energy drink use a reasonable age would be 16. These measures, if enacted could seriously help combat the problem of energy drinks and reduce the amount of teens suffering from their accompanying health problems.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

J216 said...
Jan. 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm:
Science bless them
 
Sally sunshine replied...
Feb. 20 at 8:54 am :
I love that...that was just so good to me I realley enjoyed reading that. Every time i got closer in it...it was geting even better better..
 
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