Negative Health Effects Of Sports And Energy Drinks

Photo: Grendelkhan (CC)

Photo: Grendelkhan (CC)

Scientists at University of Miami School of Medicine have reviewed the effects, adverse consequences, and extent of energy-drink consumption among children, adolescents, and young adults. Here’s what they found in their study:

RESULTS According to self-report surveys, energy drinks are consumed by 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults. Frequently containing high and unregulated amounts of caffeine, these drinks have been reported in association with serious adverse effects, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults with seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, or mood and behavioral disorders or those who take certain medications. Of the 5448 US caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, 46% occurred in those younger than 19 years. Several countries and states have debated or restricted their sales and advertising.

CONCLUSIONS Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and many ingredients are understudied and not regulated. The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects in association with energy-drink use. In the short-term, pediatricians need to be aware of the possible effects of energy drinks in vulnerable populations and screen for consumption to educate families. Long-term research should aim to understand the effects in at-risk populations. Toxicity surveillance should be improved, and regulations of energy-drink sales and consumption should be based on appropriate research.

You can download the full text of the study as a PDF.

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  • Guest

    This study conducted by the Department of the Obvious, funded by a generous grant from Brawndo.

  • http://twitter.com/nick_ian Nick Ian

    A little dramatic. It’s called moderation and not being an idiot. If everyone had a modicum of self-responsibility, there would be little need consider regulating such things.

  • http://twitter.com/nick_ian Nick Ian

    A little dramatic. It’s called moderation and not being an idiot. If everyone had a modicum of self-responsibility, there would be little need consider regulating such things.

  • Anonymous

    Never fails to amaze me. Just because a component is an “herbal” version of something (an herbal stimulant, an herbal substance that is used to enhance memory or any of the other blah blah they tout on energy drinks) doesn’t make it any less a chemical and a drug. So how is it a surprise to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that when you randomly throw what are basically a bunch of random drugs together and drink them, that it might have side effects, or that the chemicals might interact with each other in ways you weren’t expecting? Very small amounts of these substances under the guidance of a doctor or health care provider can be very helpful. But in the US, we think, “if a little’s kind of good, a lot must be better!”, which is just not true. Like any drug, the combinations in “energy” drinks can be addicting, can build up to enough toxicity in your body to cause parts of it to start misfunctioning or stop functioning entirely, or can even cause death at high enough amounts.

    I wonder how many kids are on ritalin because their energy drink habit gives them the symptoms normally associated with ADHD.

  • quartz99

    Never fails to amaze me. Just because a component is an “herbal” version of something (an herbal stimulant, an herbal substance that is used to enhance memory or any of the other blah blah they tout on energy drinks) doesn’t make it any less a chemical and a drug. So how is it a surprise to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that when you randomly throw what are basically a bunch of random drugs together and drink them, that it might have side effects, or that the chemicals might interact with each other in ways you weren’t expecting? Very small amounts of these substances under the guidance of a doctor or health care provider can be very helpful. But in the US, we think, “if a little’s kind of good, a lot must be better!”, which is just not true. Like any drug, the combinations in “energy” drinks can be addicting, can build up to enough toxicity in your body to cause parts of it to start misfunctioning or stop functioning entirely, or can even cause death at high enough amounts.

    I wonder how many kids are on ritalin because their energy drink habit gives them the symptoms normally associated with ADHD.

  • DeepCough

    Y’know what: if the 80’s were exposed to sports energy drinks, then Ronald Reagan would have declared “War on Energy Drinks,” and yes it would have happened.

  • DeepCough

    Y’know what: if the 80’s were exposed to sports energy drinks, then Ronald Reagan would have declared “War on Energy Drinks,” and yes it would have happened.

    • Ronald Regan

      No, I wouldn’t.

  • Dust

    The only thing really added to energy drinks of your generic variety, other than caffeine, is taurine, so to the extent that taurine and caffeine are safe these things should be safe. The herbal additives are generally herbs that have been used a long time, like ginseng, and don’t really have side effects, especially at the sub-effective doses that they put in energy drinks. Ginseng you need 500 mgs to get energy from, most energy drinks have 50 mgs. It’s just there to look intriguing. Most of the other stuff is just vitamins, or vitamers, like inositol. I would agree that herbal supplements can have side effects just like pharmaceuticals, but I think in the case of energy drinks the herbal content isn’t of as much issue than studying taurine would be. I’ve heard only that it lowers blood pressure and is a naturally occurring amino acid. There are some off the wall energy drinks that have stuff that might have unknown effects, but I think the more dangerous thing than the herbs or taurine or caffeine that is in these is just the fake sugars. Even ones that arent’ diet often have sucralose or aspartame to mask the flavor of the vitamins and taurine. Caffeine overdoses would require 20 cans or something so that’s not really an issue I wouldn’t think.

    • quartz99

      Mixing them with caffeine (or each other) changes the way they act though. For instance, a tea that contains both the caffeine of a normal cup of tea and a small amount of ginkgo biloba (often used for memory enhancement) causes me to shake and have muscle spasms. Neither alone does that (though any amount of ginkgo gives me a headache), but together they have a very different effect. And that’s the biggest issue. Throwing stuff in together just because the FDA doesn’t control it as a pharmaceutical-grade drug is a recipe for problems. I totally agree that the fake sugars are probably more dangerous individually. However, the combination of random chemicals (including those sweeteners) creates effects that the individual component does not produce on its own, and my experience with people who drink energy drinks is that they consume mass quantities — I have a younger sibling who at last count would drink 12 or more bottles of this crap a day. At those levels, even the small amounts per bottle can be extremely unhealthy.

  • Dust

    The only thing really added to energy drinks of your generic variety, other than caffeine, is taurine, so to the extent that taurine and caffeine are safe these things should be safe. The herbal additives are generally herbs that have been used a long time, like ginseng, and don’t really have side effects, especially at the sub-effective doses that they put in energy drinks. Ginseng you need 500 mgs to get energy from, most energy drinks have 50 mgs. It’s just there to look intriguing. Most of the other stuff is just vitamins, or vitamers, like inositol. I would agree that herbal supplements can have side effects just like pharmaceuticals, but I think in the case of energy drinks the herbal content isn’t of as much issue than studying taurine would be. I’ve heard only that it lowers blood pressure and is a naturally occurring amino acid. There are some off the wall energy drinks that have stuff that might have unknown effects, but I think the more dangerous thing than the herbs or taurine or caffeine that is in these is just the fake sugars. Even ones that arent’ diet often have sucralose or aspartame to mask the flavor of the vitamins and taurine. Caffeine overdoses would require 20 cans or something so that’s not really an issue I wouldn’t think.

  • Guest

    Energy drinks might be bad for you, so they did a study that found they might be bad for you.

    How the hell is that a conclusion?

  • Guest

    Energy drinks might be bad for you, so they did a study that found they might be bad for you.

    How the hell is that a conclusion?

  • Ronald Regan

    No, I wouldn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Mixing them with caffeine (or each other) changes the way they act though. For instance, a tea that contains both the caffeine of a normal cup of tea and a small amount of ginkgo biloba (often used for memory enhancement) causes me to shake and have muscle spasms. Neither alone does that (though any amount of ginkgo gives me a headache), but together they have a very different effect. And that’s the biggest issue. Throwing stuff in together just because the FDA doesn’t control it as a pharmaceutical-grade drug is a recipe for problems. I totally agree that the fake sugars are probably more dangerous individually. However, the combination of random chemicals (including those sweeteners) creates effects that the individual component does not produce on its own, and my experience with people who drink energy drinks is that they consume mass quantities — I have a younger sibling who at last count would drink 12 or more bottles of this crap a day. At those levels, even the small amounts per bottle can be extremely unhealthy.

  • Anonymous

    Mixing them with caffeine (or each other) changes the way they act though. For instance, a tea that contains both the caffeine of a normal cup of tea and a small amount of ginkgo biloba (often used for memory enhancement) causes me to shake and have muscle spasms. Neither alone does that (though any amount of ginkgo gives me a headache), but together they have a very different effect. And that’s the biggest issue. Throwing stuff in together just because the FDA doesn’t control it as a pharmaceutical-grade drug is a recipe for problems. I totally agree that the fake sugars are probably more dangerous individually. However, the combination of random chemicals (including those sweeteners) creates effects that the individual component does not produce on its own, and my experience with people who drink energy drinks is that they consume mass quantities — I have a younger sibling who at last count would drink 12 or more bottles of this crap a day. At those levels, even the small amounts per bottle can be extremely unhealthy.

  • Cappucci Husein

    Hello
    what is the upper tolerance limit to see htis adverse effect ?

    thanks

  • Cappucci Husein

    Hello
    what is the upper tolerance limit to see htis adverse effect ?

    thanks

  • Sanchezbby

    they r so good!!!!!!:)

  • Sanchezbby

    they r so good!!!!!!:)

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