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Energy Drinks Under Scrutiny

Caffeine-packed energy drinks under scrutiny, as a death toll is alleged. The FDA is investigating. So will we.

Monster Energy Drinks. (monsterenergy.com)

Monster Energy Drinks. (monsterenergy.com)

Caffeine-packed “energy drinks” are all over these days.  A marketing phenom.  A buzz phenom.  A lifestyle.  Red Bull.  Monster.  Rock Star. Five-Hour Energy.  Hawked on college campuses and in check-out lines.

A can or little bottle to blast you through the day, the night, the moto-cross, the big party.  The guy who jumped from space had Red Bull on his jump suit.  It’s a “live hard, play hard” message in a bottle.  Now there are reports of death after energy drink.  No proven link, but the FDA is on it.

This hour, On Point:  energy drinks, how much is too much, and the way we live now.

-Tom Ashbrook


Barry Meier, reporter for the New York Times.

Jeffrey Klineman, editor of BevNet.com.

Katie Baker, staff writer for Jezebel.

Steven Lipshultz, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

From Tom’s Reading List

NBC News “Does this sound like you? Two cups of coffee in the morning, a coffee break at 11 or so, another cup in the afternoon and a cup after dinner? That might be enough to interfere with sleep or even give some people the jitters, but it’s nowhere near an overdose. It may also be nothing compared to what some teenagers are consuming to deal with schoolwork or job pressures.”

Forbes “Energy drinks make up only a tiny portion of the beverage market, but right now it’s the fastest-growing segment. And although the drinks have fine-print warnings against consumption by those under 18, popularity among preteens and teens is one of the reasons for the growth.  Energy drink sales rose by more than 16 percent last year and Monster was in the lead, with 35 percent of the market. Just last year Monster passed Red Bull, which has been around longer, with 30 percent, and Rockstar at 19 percent.”

Chicago Tribune “The Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was investigating reports of five deaths that may be associated with Monster Beverage Corp’s namesake energy drink, and the company’s shares fell more than 14 percent.”

University of Miami “Youth account for half of the energy drink market, and according to surveys, 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. Typically, energy drinks contain high levels of stimulants such as caffeine, taurine and guarana, and safe consumption levels have not been established for most adolescents. “

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  • WorriedfortheCountry

    I’ll stick to java.

  • 1Brett1

    Just more government regulation on the horizon…

    Let the market take care of itself; if enough people die from consuming too many of these drinks then people’ll just start purchasing energy drinks from other companies or the company making the deadly drinks will eventually change its formula or risk next quarter’s profit margins! 

    Taurine is found in cured meats; what’s next, a ban on salami?! Keep your hands off my bacon! Guarana has been found to be toxic at high levels, as well, but everybody knows this. If someone is stupid enough to consume a lot of this stuff, then…

    People drive their cars into brick walls; does this mean we should stop selling cars? Anything can be deadly in the wrong hands; so do we outlaw rubber bands and paper clips, too?!  

    It’s the parents’ responsibility to regulate what their children drink, not the government’s! 

    [a composite of typical neocons' comments]  

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I was under the impression that
    taurine was an antioxidant and needed by the brain when dehydrated. Is it not also true that as we age our taurine levels drop, considerably, and that some people believe that supplementing with taurine has an anti-ageing effect ?
    Please clarify.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Has anyone overdosed if they stick to the recomendations on the can about daily consumption?  If you drink 4-5 of these in a day, its all on you.

    • StilllHere

      Please, if we can’t hold people accountable for the mortgages they legally sign, why should we expect them to read the side of a can?

      • Shag_Wevera

        Mortgage contract vs Side of a Can…

        I’m afraid I can’t accept equivalency there.

        • StilllHere

          Right.  Taking on a huge amount of debt that can force you into personal bankruptcy or worse vs. something your going to pee out 99.9% of.  Ignore the contract and read the can!  Who cares, you can sue the makers of both claiming willful ignorance.

  • Yar

    It is worth remembering that the first recipe for coke 2 1/2 gallons of water and 30 pounds of sugar, the flavor of the coca leaf, which includes a small amount of cocaine. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/427/transcript

    Caffeinated liquid sugar, the gateway drug.  We are what we eat.  Why does something have to cause immediate death to get scrutiny.  The ‘free market’ has been peddling addiction for all of history. 

  • AC

    they taste terrible…

    • ToyYoda

      Almost all of them do. But, I like the Monster Rehab Tea+Lemonade drink. It tastes like ice tea and has only 20 calories. There’s also a rojo tea version as well.

      The other monster drinks are awful tasting and have 10 times more calories. Also the packaging of each is gruesome. I stayed away from them for years, but I need another alternative to coffee at work, and I actually found that the tea/rojo tea to be healthier than drinking coffee.

      Anyways, try it, it tastes better than coffee too. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe when you look at the packaging.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I remember reading that when Red Bull was about to be released into the market one of the marketing execs tasted it and told the creator that it tasted terrible. The response was basically “It should taste bad, we want people to think it is good for them”. The old adage “Usually the worse something tastes the better it is for you” seems to have played a pretty big role in energy drink development.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         You can fool some of the people all of the time.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          and all of the people some of the time.

          • BHA_in_Vermont

            In this case, NOT all :)

            I have never picked up, let alone consumed, an “energy drink” nor a “vitamin water”. 

            I’m old school, I still drink soda :D  Actually, I mostly drink plain old water but I do go through about 4 Dr. Peppers a week.

  • RolloMartins

    I look at the ingredients of energy drinks and find: caffeine. They also have taurine (amino acid…not a stimulant), some herbs (often caffeine containing), sugar (not a stimulant despite what your friend’s and mother told you) and water. Coffee is cheaper so why do people pay for this crap? Marketing. Snake oil salesman never seem to be out of work.
    The question is why is taurine in such a great percentage of these drinks? It has no positive (or negative) impact. I guess people will look at the list and say, Ah! Taurine. Taurus the bull. Make me strong like bull! Whatever.

  • ttajtt

    rats mice fruit fly, “what does the statue of liberty say”.   don’t forget sugar nicotine GMO’s?, child birth is the gate way drug.  ATF should add a “P” for porno.  all should be sold for 18 an older under one roof, we all don’t wake up with a cold floor chop heat wood scrounge for food like a cave human, yet.  addictive sales for the consumer is capital can-be-nuts. get in the mood play the game or sideline yourself at the all-we-can-eats.  have we got lazy.   or is the rich man our comfort zone for tv internet moving sprite catcher…  

    PS money for the war machine but not CWD… check ups

  • adks12020

    Energy drinks are all disgusting.  They taste absolutely terrible.  On top of that they are so sweet that they make my stomach hurt.

    Beyond that, they sell them in huge cans that are supposed to be more than one serving but you can’t reseal a can once it’s opened and the majority contain carbonation which is obviously lost once the can is opened. When Red Bull first came out they only sold it in a 6.5 ounce can…about the same size as a cup of coffee on your home coffee maker. Now they come in cans more than 3 times the size of that. It’s completely unnecessary and unrealstic to think a teenager is just going to put it down after one serving.

    I also have an issue with 5 hour energy. They are so loaded with Niacin and B vitamins in them they can cause Niacin flush which for many people (I’ve experienced it…couldn’t find a cup of coffee once) results in itching skin, rash like redness all over the body and makes it feel like the body is going to overheat.

    I’ll stick with a cup of coffee or two, maybe some tea here and there. Works for me with no side effects and it actually tastes good.

  • ttajtt

    pump-U-up lance armstrong designer type drugs too.  caffeine dilate blood vessels, does not cause the blood clot but ad’s in to stroke and heart attacks.   what about bone (joint) health as arthritis, thoughts, toward speed in reaction? old age IS a drag.  52  by first birth (minus the NDE thats 30 years in dec.) yes i am stuck at 22 1/2.  here said at 23-25 we quite growing over all, the diets never talk of the ingenious american diets pro health for all ages and sexes. each age level-activity reached must be indifferent?   but that life style-way is gone. 

  • ttajtt


  • Coastghost

    On Point producers: granted, you’re not eager to spend an hour discussing the compounding pharmacy/fungal meningitis episode because the moldy outfit is there in Massachusetts, but: is it not more newsworthy nationally? A couple of dozen dead nationwide, hundreds infected? The energy drinks have only been “implicated” in a handful of cases thus far. What explains your choice in topics here?

    • Yar

      Coastghost, I hope On-Point takes on the meningitis issue.  I just looked at a map of cases. http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-map.html
      What jumps out to me is the distribution of cases.  I bet many cases can be tracked back to individual drug detail men (or women).  Treatment options are advertised to doctors through educational opportunities and free samples.  I wonder how many of these drugs spent time the the back seat of a detail man’s car.  I am speculating here, I don’t have any information other than the distribution data on the CDC website.  Why would a doctor in TN be more likely to use this medicine than a doctor in Ky?

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Aside from the health related concerns I find the financial impact of Energy Drinks troubling. I have a relative who consumes as many as four or five of these high priced drinks every day. Conservatively that’s forty five to fifty dollars a week, or two hundred dollars a month, or two thousand four hundred dollars a year. Said relative is not wealthy and doesn’t make much money at their job. I feel none of this is any of my business, well at least not until that same relative is kvetching about not having money to pay a bill or buy groceries. On these occasions I have tried to explain in the least offensive manner possible that the two hundred dollars a month they spend on Energy Drinks would be much better spent if put towards food, bills, or savings. It’s like talking to a post. Their eyes glaze over and they mutter “But I need them, I couldn’t make it through the day without them”. My response is usually along the lines of “Buy coffee. You can get 200 plus cups for less than ten bucks, less than five if you’re willing to drink generic”. Thanks to marketing they refuse to believe the boost gained from Energy Drinks is the same boost that makes coffee drinkers crave the java. My response: Read the ingredients.

    Apologies for the long winded lead in but here’s the bottom line: Ten plus Billion Dollars went to the Energy Drink industry last year. Where would those billions have gone if people hadn’t been busy pounding the drinks back then literally pissing it down the drain?

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      What your relative and all the “I need it to stay awake” people NEED is SLEEP! And maybe part of that sleep is a 15 minute mid day ‘nap’ – obviously NOT while driving :).

      What time do they go to bed and what time do they get up? All the stimulants they pound all day long make it that much harder to NOT fall asleep when they are SUPPOSED to.

      Fix your sleep habits and get off the legal drugs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    People need to admit that drugs are drugs, whether it’s some pill – or an “energy” drink.

    It’s funny how many kids are guzzling this stuff down – but still aren’t allowed to drink coffee at home because that would not be “appropriate” for someone their age.

  • ToyYoda

    I drink Monster Energy Rehab for work. I have a whole cabinet full of it. The packaging of the drink is awful, and I stayed away from drinking it because of that.

    However, I just didn’t like to drink coffee. I got headaches from it. And drinking black tea was also giving me headaches. So, I needed something else to keep me awake at work and so I started looking into the energy drinks.

    Monster Rehab keeps me awake just like the coffee and tea, but I don’t get any of the headaches. My body and stomach react better to it aswell. With coffee, I would get an upset stomach. In short, I found the Monster Rehab drinks to be much healthier for me than coffee or tea.

    My guess is because it contains supporting vitamins and protein as well as the coffee and ginseng. I also don’t get the withdrawal symptoms if I stop drinking it aswell.

    I stop drinking coffee for more than a year now, and only drink Monster Rehab, and various kinds of teas. At work, I notice that when people make coffee they add cream and sugar. I calculated the calorie count of their cup of coffee and noticed that they were taking in much more calories than a can of Monster Rehab. So, if you are looking to lose weight, I would consider switching.

    It’s important that if you try the Monster Rehab, you get the Monster *Rehab* and NOT the Monster *something else*. The other Monster drinks are awful, and have 10 times the calories. So the more general point to note is that not all the energy drinks are bad for you. You must read the labeling, ingredients, the energy count carefully and decide whether you want to try it or not.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      “Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.”

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Are there any reliable statistics regarding deaths resulting either directly or indirectly from the Red Bull and Vodka craze?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Sometimes when On Point covers subjects like this it sounds a lot like an infomercial.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      The Siri Show was a prime example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sailortitan Katherine Isham

    My boyfriend used to work third shift and relied on caffeine and taurine based drinks to get him through the day constantly. I often worried about him because I saw the toll it was taking on his health; constantly tired and out of it during his waking hours, and often relying on sleeping pills to get him to sleep when he finally hit the hay. I was glad when his health returned to normal after he quit; I worry about other third-shifters or college students that are hurting their long term health and sleep schedule with heavy use of these stimulants to get through the day.

  • tu32qab7th

    I wonder how many of these reported energy drink deaths also had autopsies/tox screens performed outside the amphetamine detection window?


  • ToyYoda

    This is absolute over-reaction.  period.  Millions of people drink this stuff every day, and there are 5 deaths only dubiously linked to energy drinks over the course of DECADES.

    More people have died from overdosing on water.

    If we applied the same overreaction to everything that we do, we would outlaw driving, taking the bus, eating food containing any kind of fat that can be deposited on your arteries, and water.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Energy drinks are all over the place because companies have figured out how to convince people that had cut back on sodas that they need, need, NEED energy drinks. Same with vitamin water. You don’t NEED either of them but marketing has convinced you that you absolutely DO need it.

    B.T. Barnum had this figured out a hundred and fifty years ago.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Don’t forget the original energy drink in a can: Mountain Dew – you couldn’t have a stereotype of a computer geek/gamer without a case of Mountain Dew sitting under their desk.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      For some reason your comment made me think about Jolt Cola. Their original slogan if I remember correctly was “All the sugar and twice the caffeine”.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    you need energy drinks to keep up with what?

  • ToyYoda

    Red Bull was introduced in 1987.  At least 11 people have died from water intoxication since 1995, according to wikipedia.  5 unproven deaths from energy drinks.

    Let’s also regulate the consumption of water and talk about it’s dubious health claims.

    • 1Brett1

      We do know exactly why people died from ingesting too much water too quickly in those cases you mention. We do not know what, if any, correlation there is between these “unproven” deaths and these products. Since deaths were events that happened directly after the ingestion of these products, wouldn’t it behoove us to maybe study these relationships a little more to see if there is any causal, or even correlative, relationship? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    One thing that is dangerous – even though Four Loco was pulled from the market, it just means many people drink and follow them up with non-alcoholic energy drinks to “sober” up.

  • genevieve16

    I’m 42 and in the 80s Jolt was our way to get a legal buzz on. We were 16 years old and this was our way to really alter our state without having to buy alcohol or drugs, though we were buying those too. I think parents should restrict their children from drinking them, as they would restrict smoking or drinking, but I fear that’s largely impossible to monitor 24/7.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Someone else who remembers Jolt Cola!

      • Ray in VT

        There was also Surge in the late 1990s.  I used to run cross country with a guy who loved that stuff.

  • adks12020

    NIACIN…that’s what this caller is talking about over dosing on. It happened to me. My skin was also itchy and very warm. Very uncomfortable feeling.

  • bacterial_sizzle

    Lots of sugar in these drinks too – it’s the health equivalent of drinking a Coke and popping a No Doze. Black coffee is my energy booster of choice.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    At least stop selling them to children.

  • adks12020

    Why do kids drink caffeine anyway? Since when do kids need to drink caffeine to have high energy? I never drank coffee regularly until I got to college.

    • Jennifer Ten Eyck

      because it’s cool and grown up.  I remember thinking coffee was disgusting as a kid.  Now you see 10 and 12yr olds going to starbucks and dunkin donuts for the real sugary coffee drinks

  • 7ohnnyRamone

    Fact, we don’t allow children to purchase alcoholic beverages for obvious reasons.  Energy drinks should be just as limited to them.  Living at home with mommy and daddy, children have no need for such beverages.  If they’re tired, take a nap!

  • Sagar Malavia

    When my daughter had diarrhea, her PEDIATRICIAN recommended giving her Gatorade or similar energy drink to give her electrolytes. Was that wrong???!!!!! Many of my friends give Gatorade to their kids in similar situation.Is Gatorade an energy drink?

    • adks12020

      No, Gatorade is not an energy drink.  Gatorade doesn’t have caffeine in it.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Pedialyte would have been a more appropriate recommendation in that situation. Guess your Doc is a big Gatorade fan.

  • http://twitter.com/GeorgiaEdeMD Georgia Ede MD

    Most people believe that an afternoon crash is normal and that caffeine and other stimulants are the only way to manage it.  However, this is not normal, but instead is almost always due to the daily multi-hormone roller coaster we put ourselves on by eating high glycemic index diets full of refined carbohydrates such as sugar and flour.  When blood sugar rises, insulin rises in response to bring it down.  When blood sugar falls in response to insulin, norepinephrine (ADRENALINE) rushes in to prevent hypoglycemia.  When adrenaline (our own natural internal “fight or flight” stimulant hormone) subsides, there is a withdrawal “crash” similar to the one that can happen when stimulants such as coffee and Adderall wear off.  We use energy drinks to try to stabilize this cycle, which is best addressed by stabilizing blood sugar levels by eating a low glycemic index diet.  

    Georgia Ede MD

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “The beverage industry has shown a certain amount of responsiveness to health concerns” your guest says. That has nothing to do with benevolence on their part, people make changes when profitability is threatened. Don’t give the industry a pat on the back when it deserves a slap in the face.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      “Not to be too big a (proponent) of the beverage industry, but look at Coke and Pepsi leaving in-school distribution” says Klineman  (paraphrased.)

      Yeah, that falls under the heading of “quit before they were fired”: I’m not gonna applaud them withdrawing from a market like that under increasing scrutiny from many, many boards of ed.

      At some point everything is a “market” to the industry. It affects their judgment.

  • Jennifer Ten Eyck

    energy drinks are junk and not what the human body was meant to consume!  When my husband was in grad school his fellow classmates would brew coffee with 5 hour energy

  • Bluejay2fly

    What kind of parent permits their children to drink caffeine?              
    My mother was far from strict and I was not allowed to drink
    coffee until I was 18. In her mind it was a drug. I only started drinking energy drinks (Monsters) when I was in the desert (at war) and it was too hot to drink coffee. I was also 39 years old. They should be restricted to age 18 like cigarettes. I also recently went off coffee and after an 7 day headache I feel better. I was drinking stupid amounts 5-7 cups a day and can see where in excess these drugs are bad for your health. Moderation that is the key.

  • aeroth

    If parents are so worried about energy drinks harming their children, they also need to be worried about fast food and processed food.  You cannot pick and choose which food/drink you vilify.

  • JeffJohnsonInOmaha

    Isn’t this like the Diet Pill scare in the 1980′s?

  • http://twitter.com/tarikjamal Tarik Buxton

    I don’t recall any kids drinking coffee when I was in high school (I’m sure some did). I wouldn’t have my kids drinking coffee while they are still growing. Why are kids drinking these energy drinks loaded with caffeine? Are there also tons of kids drinking coffee now? Kids have no business drinking these energy drinks. 

  • aeroth

    If parents are so worried about the health effects of energy drinks, they also need to be worried about the effects of fast and processed food.  You cannot pick and choose which products to vilify.

  • Cedric Collins

    How are energy drinks a “bigger rush than coffee” when brewed coffee has 2-3 times as much caffeine per oz?

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Placebo effect. Thank successful marketing and a lack of critical thinking for that.

    • adks12020

      A serving of coffee is 8 oz. A can of Monster is 24 oz. A cup of coffee has a teaspoon of sugar in it.  A regualr can of Monster has over 30 grams of sugar in it. Coffee doesn’t have all the other ingredients that Monster and other enegy drinks do.

      Higher volume and a combination of ingredients make the difference. I drink coffee all the time and I can’t drink a can of Monster without feeling so jittery that I feel sick.  That might just be a reaction I personally have to other ingreidents; I don’t know.  I avoid them anyway.  

      • Cedric Collins

        A “serving” of energy drink is also 8 oz. I usually get the 16 oz. coffee at Starbucks. Apparently, it has 330 mg of caffeine, which is more than twice what a 16 oz. red bull would have.


        • 1Brett1

          Yeah, but the companies making these drinks don’t have to print on the labels how much caffeine is in the gaurana or yerba mate. Both herbals have high levels; put those together with the “caffeine” listed (from coffee bean) and you have an amount much higher. We also don’t know if these other substances act as potentiators (my guess is they do in some ways). 

  • J__o__h__n

    Did this really merit an hour of On Point?

  • Dave_in_RI

    Thank you, current caller (Laks?), though you are being too polite. Our society, on the whole, is stupid enough to fall for the most hairbrained ideas, and is therefore vulnerable to the marketing of products that are absolutely unnecessary and potentially harmful. Anyone with half a brain looks at these energy drinks and sees snakeoil.

  • AlanThinks

    I’ve not been a user of these drinks, but several years ago I started drinking stronger and stronger coffee including into the afternoon and then added strong chocolates.  Then I started having uncontrolled vertigo. After a neurological evaluation that was negative, I decided to go cold turkey on the stimulants.  My vertigo stopped.  Like the doctor said – what’s the rush to push the envelope of life.  Some coffee only in the AM and I am happy enough!

  • Rex Henry

    that commercial is great. how many doctors actually reviewed it?

  • Yar

    We ask 3000 doctors? How many answered the survey? The data did not say 75 percent of doctors surveyed support energy drinks.

  • npr247

    Please Tom draw the connection between the way people in this country abuse themselves by what they consume in the name of Freedom of choice and then expect us all to pay for their end of life care…smokers, obesity…If they would like the freedom to abuse themselves, then please support a government option universal health care policy helping everyone with the insane cost of health insurance.

  • Mandala8

    I look forward to some good research on this, but in the meantime, as a Nurse-Psychotherapist, I believe regular use of energy drinks is often a way of countering the low energy from the body digesting the non-food edibles we put in our bodies.  We are created for boundless energy if we care for our bodies, psyches, and spirit well.  And BTW teens are developmentally impulsive and driven by the experimental process of discovering their own beliefs, values, behaviors etc. towards developing a healthy sense of themselves separate from parents; we need to have a certain level of cultural protection for these kids’ legitimate process.

  • KeepBiking

    As a Senior triathlete, one of the best training tips I ever got was to go caffeine free. Giving up not only hyper-caffeinated drinks like Red Bull, but also regular Coke and coffee is an easy and free way to help your heart. 

  • Mandala8

    Are we seriously thinking that telling teens to not do something is a viable solution to potentially damaging behavior?!

  • sam liu

    yesterday, i had 2 McD cappuccinos with 2 espresso shots …

    • Byron Baugh

      I feel you. If I’m working that day i will always buy a red bull and a large iced coffee from McDs

  • Amy Palmisano

    Parents should be responsible for their child(ren)’s actions. There’s warnings on the can “Not intended for children or pregnant woman”. It’s common since. We wouldn’t give our kids alcoholic beverages or cigarettes but we’ll toss them an energy drink….what makes an energy drink any different? Same goes for an adult, its not juice! Parents need to ask themselves….Will I give my child no doze? 5 hr energy? Or other energy supplement? If the answer is no, then why would you let them have an energy drink?

    • 1Brett1

      Well, if we’re talking teenagers, and we’re talking non-age-restricted products (unlike cigarettes and alcohol), then this whole, “why let them have…” stuff becomes less within a parent’s ability to use as a form of control. 

  • Cabanator

    The problem is that no one really knows how much stimulant these drinks contain; it isn’t regulated. As one of the experts on the show mentioned earlier, many of these energy drinks contain other stimulants IN ADDITION to caffeine. For example, Red Bull contains guarana, which is a potent herbal stimulant, reported to have as much as three times the amount of caffeine as coffee. There is no FDA requirement to report the stimulant content of guarana on product labels. Same goes for yerba mate, also in many of these drinks. Stimulants are, after all, drugs. Yes, many of us use caffeine as a normal part of our daily lives, and it’s generally considered safe in moderation, but like any drug, there is a potential for overdose.

    It’s shocking to me that the FDA allows these drinks to be produced with unpublished total stimulant content. Consumers don’t know how much stimulant they’re getting or what the interaction may be between all these different types of stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana, and yerba mate. These drinks are in effect unregulated drugs being sold to the public. Scary. 

    • 1Brett1

      That’s exactly right, so the “labels” are not really accurate in terms of how much caffeine is in the drinks. We also don’t quite know how the substances interact with each other; they may spike certain unwanted effects even more or act as potentiators to known ingredients. 

    • Ben Boer

      Guarana isn’t an “other” stimulant “in addition” to caffeine… it’s just more caffeine, identical to the caffeine found in coffee and tea. Same goes for yerba mate… because IT IS TEA.

      Differentiating between the caffeine found in coffee and guarana or yerba mate would be like differentiating between the caffeine in coffee and earl grey… ridiculous.

      • 1Brett1

        Well, no, the labels show how much caffeine is from the coffee bean only. The values printed do NOT include anything from gaurana or yerba mate. The manufacturers don’t have to divulge all of the compounds in herbals. That’s the point, and we don’t know how the compounds in these herbals might potentiate the effects of caffeine. 

    • Cabanator

      I did a bit of research, and Ben is right that guarana, yerba mate, tea, etc. all contain the same stimulant, caffeine, rather than being different compounds. This has been complicated in the past by listing the caffeine in guarana as “guaranine” for example. In addition, it is not clear that the caffeine in all these products is processed by the body in the same way. Some people say that the caffeine in guarana is released in the body more slowly than the caffeine in coffee. I don’t know if that is scientifically proven.

      Brett is correct that the labels do not contain information about the caffeine content coming from these herbals. In fact, the FDA requirement is only that caffeine must be listed as an ingredient if it is added to a food, but the total caffeine content does not need to be quantified. Also, if the caffeine occurs naturally in the product, as in tea, coffee, guarana, etc., it doesn’t even have to be listed as an ingredient, or quantified. I think this is a scary proposition when you talk about taking extracts from all these caffeine sources, making them into a concentrate, and putting them in these energy drinks. No one knows how much total caffeine is actually in there! 

      Interesting article about this in the LA Times:


  • DaveVizian

    Hi, Dave is Vizian here

    Our company, the Vizian Group put a lot of time and a lot of money into developing some high powered energy drinks. We really wanted to corner the youth market so we can sell them our chips and floppies and CD ROM compact discs in the hot new market with the youth today.
    So, we wound up putting about 1,000,000 dollars into the development of an energy drink that was basically liquid rocket fuel for kids, and let me tell you Bob, the lab results were frightening. The lab that we used in Pakistan said they were shoveling dead rats for days. They had to start trucking in rat from Afghanistan just to keep up the pace. But they got it right. Stuff works like a charm!

    Now I can’t really say more about it, but the results were pretty frightening.

    Fortunately though, we got the first few batches that we made, about 1000 cans, and quite frankly, that’s what everybody runs on here at the company now a days. Our Product Tivity is up, our charts and graphs are through the roof, our chips are bigger and more complex, and our coding is fast..real fast.
    Just got new batch of employees from india and they are burning out our keyboards!

  • Mike Tarpey

    Hi Tom – Just wanted to point out the audio clips of redbull “sponsored” athletes are speaking to thow these redbull sponsored events are pushing their respective sports to the limits of whats possible.   While these athletes ‘may’ drink energy drinks its redbull sponsorship dollars not caffeine that are pushing these athletes to the next level. -mike

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Sadly this is demonstrating the process of natural selection at work. As individuals and a society I would give us and F. Ignorance is not a valid excuse to mother nature when it comes to the threat to health. Ignorance as a society has no excuse as we have this extremist right-wing push to towards near total freedom to not just screw our selves up as individuals, but profit from screwing other people up with little or no accountability. The buck stops nowhere!

    • Other Chris

      You couldn’t be more right.

    • Steve__T

      I agree. The funny or stupid thing is our FDA, they placed Marajuna as a schedule 1 narcotic right along with Heroin and Cocaine, but there is not one death attributable to it. New study’s show it has the ability to kill cancer cells, relieve pain nausea etc., but we will lock someone up and  pay anywhere from 80 to 90 thousand dollars a year to keep them in jail. There is no regulation on thees drinks we give our kids, this junk in a can that can kill them. And somebody’s getting rich off of it. What’s wrong with that picture?

  • 1Brett1

    It’s amazing the plethora of these drinks that have exploded on the market in the last couple of years. It’s also amazing how many people practically live on these things, drinking them several times a day. Their problem might be sleep deprivation or lack of good diet, or both, and they compensate by using these products. It does reflect larger problems in our culture: people having to work two jobs; people thinking health maintenance, in terms of how they treat their bodies through daily regiments, doesn’t need their constant attention; people wanting a quick fix; people thinking the products are safe because they’ve never had a problem taking them.

    I think the substances need a lot more study…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ESDK3MDSPH3CA7E2KH4ODNH3AU Rene

    What even more scary is how used to intensify alcohol!  It is not meant to be a mixer. Today kids are not using in place of but with…We can’t control responsability but let’s recognize it is an issue?

  • ttajtt

    i talk earlier with other words to where Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Porno 18 and older, and these should be sold under one roof.    i was took out.

  • Michael Mitchell

    Im an avid coffee drinker and a weight lifter and back in the day I used to use stimulants like ephedrine and aspirin with my workouts also known as the ECA stack before people abused ephedrine taking larger and larger doses instead of backing away from it for several weeks. Eventually leading to people having heart palpitations and ephedrine being a grey market substance.  I have a mild asthma but its generally seasonal so Im used to a bronchial dilator stimulant and what occurs in the process.

    I can drink coffee and go to sleep in many instances I drink coffee and fall asleep before Im done with the cup.  Because of that I recently had to work some overnight shifts and decided to try an energy drink for the first time because I know coffee wont keep me awake and sharp.

    Within 45 minutes I had intense buzzing in my ears that made it difficult to hear.  It was like I sat under the speakers at a rock concert.  My eyeballs were shaking and my heart racing.  Simple tasks like taking a pickle out of a jar I was fumbling with.  I attempted to begin a workout figuring I could sweat it out but felt the additional would push my heart over the top so I immediately began drinking water and food to try and flush it out of my system Asap.  It took a solid 2 hours before I had reached a limit where I was comfortable this wasn’t going to progress further.

    As someone who used to do the ECA stack Ive never had an experience like this.  Ive even had a reaction to an inhaler once but nowhere near the intensity the energy drink caused. 

    These need to be looked into but the next problem is how do you keep someone from drinking 2 or 3 of them?  There are always people who will take more and more of something to get their desired effect.

    Good luck to all who think they can handle it the best is to back away.  You can only die once.

  • Marco Ringo

    I drink energy drinks daily….seldom, but sometimes twice a day. I have drank coffee most of my life. My body accepts energy drinks much much better than coffee. I find it to be a safer, not more harmful, effect. Coffee does not give me alertness, and it puts me to sleep very soon after I drink it. As well, coffee makes me feel bad, and it makes me incredibly nervous, and even paranoid, unlike energy drinks. Energy drinks actually make me feel better in more ways than simply keeping me going. But that’s just my experience. I am not a spokesperson for any energy drink. And I am not at all saying I recommend energy drinks. I am simply stating my personal experience.

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

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