Kristina D’Arcangelo D’Arcangelo 1Professor David DiSarroEnglish 10104 February 2012 The Truth About Energy Drinks Americans are known for expressing themselves, enjoying their freedom, showing offtheir livelihood, and living in a fast-paced world. Everyday, people are stressed out, rushingbetween school, work, sports, and their social lives, causing them to overwork and exhaustthemselves. All of this hustle-bustle can lead to fatigue and a feeling of crashing or burning out,which in turn leads them to turn to a boost of caffeine. For the past 100 years, the number onejolt of caffeine came from a cup of coffee; however energy drinks are now increasingly popular.Almost half of the youth in America have said they drink energy drinks regularly or have tried anenergy drink more than once, looking for a hefty dose of caffeine (Medline Plus). This increasein the consumption of energy drinks has many side effects on teenagers, most of which arenegative. Kids think they are helping themselves stay awake and can accomplish much moreafter drinking an energy drink, but what they don’t know is that these drinks can lead to manyhealth problems such as dizziness, high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks, and even death. Studies found in 2010 alone, energy drinks represented a $6.7 billion industry in theUnited States. The majority of these consumers were under the age of 35. Most young adultsare unaware that the manufactures of these drinks market their products as dietary supplements.In doing this, these drinks are not manufactured by the Food and Drug Administration. Thenegative effect of this is that manufactures are not limited to amount of caffeine they use in the
D’Arcangelo 2making of these drinks and they do not even have to disclose this information or other harmfulingredients (McLellan and Lieberman). The majority of these “miracle” drinks actually haveextremely high amounts of dangerous and damaging ingredients such as caffeine, ginseng,glucose, guarana, taurine. Most energy drinks contain about 140-170 milligrams of caffeine in a14-16oz can. This is double the amount of caffeine in and 8oz cup of coffee. Caffeinestimulates the nervous system and in excessive amounts can cause dizziness, headaches, makeyou jittery and unable to fall asleep. Energy drinks also contain about 50-60 grams of glucose orsugar. This level of sugar in the blood can cause insulin to go through the ceiling, which leads tothe inability to burn fat, in turn causing obesity. This is misleading because most energy drinksare marketed to increase productivity and weight lost from the high increase of energy, but theyactually contain too much sugar to burn off. Guarana is also an ingredient commonly found inthese drinks. Guarana comes from a South American shrub and is also loaded with caffeine. Incomparison to a coffee bean, a seed from guarana has 4-5% caffeine, where as a coffee bean onlyhas 1-2% caffeine. The combination of these ingredients in high dosages can be extremelyharmful to person’s health and can even cause death.(Loeb pgs 2-6). Another dangerous fascination with energy drinks in mixing them with alcohol.According to a survey, as many as 56% of college students reported they had mixed alcoholwith an energy drink. This is extremely dangerous because of the high level of stimulants suchas taurine, ginseng, and caffeine in energy drinks. Alcohol is a depressant, so when the twoopposites are mixed together, it sends mixed signals to the central nervous system and alsocauses cardio problems. (JAMA pg 245). Also, alcohol severely dehydrates people, causingintoxication. The high levels of caffeine and glucose in the energy drinks also causes
D’Arcangelo 3dehydration, and when the two are mixed together the combination causes the person to beincreasingly intoxicated. This high level of caffeine also adds to a person’s impaired judgment.Typically a person drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink is perceived to be “more drunk”then a person just drinking alcohol, however it does depend on the persons height and weight.This combination of alcohol and high levels of caffeine and other harmful ingredients can bedeadly. A British Website concurs, advising, “Redbull should not be drunk with alcohol, or afterexercising.” They also reported 3 cases of death from these situations. The same website alsostates that Norway, Denmark, and France have banned energy drinks from all stores except forpharmacies. The reason for this is because they consider energy drinks as medicine or a drugdue to its high caffeine content (Smith pg.1). The New York Times reported in 2011, that there were 20,783 reported emergency roomvisits in which an energy drink was cited as the primary cause of or a contributing factor to ahealth problem. In 2007, 10,068 people reported emergency room visits again citing energydrinks as the cause. They also stated that there were no numbers submitted for 2012. "Suchproblems, which are typically linked to excessive caffeine consumption, can include anxiety,headaches, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks," (Meier pg. 1). These statistics demonstratethat the number of cases of emergency room visits in the United States double between 2007 and2011. The New York Times stating that there were no results posted for 2012, suggests thatthere is something to hide. The reason for no statistics posted for 2012 could be that the numberdrastically increased since 2011, therefore they did not release the information.
D’Arcangelo 4 Energy drinks are extremely dangerous whether mixed with alcohol or consumed byitself. Atleast 20 cases have been noted over the past 5 years in which the situation was deadly.In one particular case, a 14-year-old girl, Anais Fournier, from Hagerstown, Maryland died inDecember, 2011. One thing to consider is Fournier did have a heart condition known as mitralvalve prolapse. Theaffects of this condition includes one of the heartvalves to malfunction.Fournier, was shopping at a local mall the night of December 16, 2011, when she purchased a24-ounce can of “Monster” energy drink. On December 17, 2011 she drank a second 24-ouncecan of the same energy drink. Apparently she consumed two 24-ounce cans of this energy drinkwithin 24 hours. Later that night on December 17, 2011, she was allegedly at home watchingTV with her boyfriend when she unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest. Her parents immediatelybrought her to Meritus Medical Center and was later med flighted to John Hopkins Hospital.Doctors at the John Hopkins Hospital for forced to place her in an induced coma to keep herbrain from swelling, however regained consciousness. On December 23, 2011, she was declaredbrain dead and her parents had to make an unfortunate decision to pull her off life support.Theparent of Anais Fournier are now filing a wrongful death law suit against the MonsterBeverage Corporation. Perhaps her mother, Wendy Crossman, stated it best, “I was shocked tolearn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks. Withtheir bright colors and names like Monster, Redbull, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targetingteenagers with no oversight or accountability.” This is true because the energy drinks certainlytarget young adolescents with their color schemes and advertisement, suggesting that kids canboost their energy and productivity with one can. Her mother also stated, “These drinks aredeath traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais,” (Bonura pg. 1).
D’Arcangelo 5 Obviously, the Monster corporation is fighting the allegations, claiming that theallegations of the product were not responsible for the death of Anais Fournier. However, onestudy from a medical journal states, “Caffeine can be lethal in doses ranging from 200 to 400milligrams.” The two cans of Monster energy drink thatAnais consumed contained 480milligrams of caffeine which is equal to fourteen 12-ounce cans of soda. In addition to thecaffeine, Monster also contains guarana which contains caffeine, and taurine. Taurine is said tohave similar effects on cardiac mussels, (Bonura pg. 2). In conclusion, the use of energy drinks should be banned for the sale to adolescences, oratleast regulated. The high levels of caffeine and other harmful ingredients should be reduced orcontrolled. It is proven that these drinks can negatively affect a person’s heart rate, bloodpressure, cholesterol, motor activity including speech rate, alertness and body temperature. Thefalse advertisement aiming to adolescents is harmful and misleading. If nothing is done toregulate these products, the rate of emergency room visits and death will unfortunately increaseand become a reoccurring event.
D’Arcangelo 6 Works CitedMcLellan, TM; Lieberman, Hr , “Do Energy Drinks Contain Active Components other thanCaffeine?” Nutrition Reviews 2012 Dec; Vol. 70 (12), pp. 730-44. Date of ElectronicPublication: 2012 Nov 09.Barry Meier, “More Emergency Visits Linked to Energy Drinks,” The New York TimesBusiness Day article January 11, 2013Jonathan Howland, PhD, MPH; Damaris J. Rohsenow, PhD, “ Risks of Energy Drinks whenMixed with Alcohol” The Journal of American Medical Associationhttp://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487124 January 16, 2013. RetrievedFeburary, 03, 2013.Geraint Smith, “Three deaths linked to energy drink,” Mail Onlinewww.dailymail.co.uk/health/article59862 Retrieved Februray, 5,2013Denise Bonura, “Anais Fournier’s parents file wrongful death lawsuit against Monster BeverageCorp.” The Record Herald.com www.therecordherald.com/article/201221022 RetrievedFebrurary 5, 2012