Lack of research and regulation in energy drinks, as well as their high consumption and the fact that there are reported cases of toxicity are a serious health risk for children, adolescents and young people.
According to the authors from the University of Miami, 30-50% of the young population consume energy drinks are consumed regularly. In the U.S. these drinks are categorized as food supplements and by that they avoid the FDA limit on caffeine content of 71 mg per 12 ounces (about 355 ml) in soft drinks. Furthermore, safety tests and leaflets (which are mandatory for all kind of medicament) are also avoided. As a result, there are energy drinks that contain up to 400 mg of caffeine and that is only the stated caffeine. There are also unstated amounts of stimulants made from ingredients such as guarana, seeds of Cola (cola nuts), cocoa and yerba mate.
46% of 5448 reported cases of caffeine overdose in 2007 in the U.S., are from people under 19 years of age. The authors recommend a maximum caffeine intake of 2.5 mg / kg for children and 100 mg / kg for adolescents. A study from New Zealand (also included in the survey) claims that the consumption of only 1 energy drink leads to the exceeding of the recommended intake of 2.5 mg / kg.
The toxic effects of energy drinks are being monitored in countries like Germany, Australia and New Zealand. There is a significant number of reported cases of adverse effects associated with consumption of energy drinks: liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory disorders, agitation, confusion, seizures, psychotic states, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rhabdomyolysis, tachycardia, cardiac dysrhythmia, hypertension, myocardial infarction, heart failure and death.
The long-term health effects of the regular consumption of energy drinks in children and teenagers are still unclear, but all gathered information indicates that these drinks can have many harmful, even potentially fatal effects.
The marketing of energy drinks is primarly aimed at men which are pre-adolescents, adolescents and young adults, says Dr. Higgins of the University of Texas. The bare fact that a child can enter the supermarket and buy and consume such beverage is frightening.