POTTSTOWN PA – The so-called “energy drinks” that you or your teen-aged child may be sipping contain as much as five times the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says poses a potential health risk, yet 20 percent of youths who consume these beverages consider them safe.
Another 13 percent believe energy drinks are sports drinks, according to information released Tuesday (April 8, 2014) by Ruth Litchfield, Iowa State University associate professor and associate chair of food science and human nutrition.
Energy drinks carry “the connotation that they are a performance enhancer,” which creates the perception of academic or physical improvements, Litchfield said. But “that amount of caffeine has health implications,” she added. Heart rate and blood pressure may increase, as well as the risk of arrhythmias. Those who consume energy drinks for prolonged periods increase their risk for cardiovascular disease, too.
Some drinks also contain quantities of the stimulants ma huang (also known as ephedra) and guarana.
There’s no doubt energy drinks are popular. They can be found across the Greater Pottstown area in supermarkets, convenience stores, beverage distributors, and vending machines. Teens and young adults make up about half of the growing energy drink market, the CDC estimates.
Many manufacturers, however, are not required to include caffeine amounts on the federal Food and Drug Administration’s proposed nutrition labels, Litchfield said. Instead, some producers offer limited information on “supplemental facts” panels on cans or bottles, and can do so voluntarily rather than by requirement.
Otherwise, “there is no way for consumers to know how much” of any booster is added to an energy drink, she said.
Photo from Iowa State University