The Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Teens

The ingestion of heavily-caffeinated energy drinks has dramatically risen in the last few years with revenues currently exceeding $3.5 billion a year and growing. Many of these beverages boast a variety of ingredients like ginkgo, ginseng, amino acids and vitamins, but they also often contain high amounts of sugar, and the primary active ingredient: caffeine. There is growing unease over the use of these energy drinks and the possible health effects among children, teens and young adults.

Reportedly, thirty to fifty percent of this group periodically consumes these super-charged energy drinks with about one third of 12-to 24-year-olds admitting to regular use. Because they are served cold, there is a possibility that energy beverages may be consumed more quickly than hot beverages and in larger amounts. Negative effects like seizures, diabetes, cardiac problems and mood or behavioral disorders have been linked to the consumption of energy drinks, especially with use among children, teens and young adults.

This trend is a mounting source of concern for medical personnel, parents and school officials as the beverages are increasingly associated with emergency-room visits. While the amount of caffeine in soft drinks is not regulated by the FDA, the agency recommends 68 milligrams or less per 12-ounce serving. A study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology examined ten popular energy drinks for caffeine amount and found levels as high as 141 milligrams in a 16-ounce serving. A 12-ounce serving of the energy drink, Monster, contains a whopping 120 milligrams of caffeine, Red Bull offers 116 milligrams and Amp contains 107 milligrams per 12 ounces. In comparison, an equal amount of other sodas contains 34 to 38 milligrams of caffeine.

According to a recent survey by researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University, there were more than 250 reports of caffeine overdose to the Illinois Poison Control Center over a span of three years.
The average age of those involved was 21. Another concern is the growing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol, which can make adolescent and young adult users feel less inebriated.
According to a 2006 study, however, motor coordination and reaction time in individuals are as impaired as when drinking alcohol alone.

There is little evidence on the long-term effects of caffeine on children and teenagers. At the very least, however, it has been shown that caffeine creates physiological and psychological dependence in adults.

Parents, teachers and medical personnel should make an attempt to become more educated about the possible negative effects of heavily-caffeinated beverages on children, teens and young adults.
If you’re concerned you or your child may have problems related to caffeine consumption, consult the specialists at PrimeMedical today!

PrimeMedical continues to accept new patients, Medicare and most insurance. Call our office today to schedule your comprehensive exam at 310.548.0201!

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