Kristina D’Arcangelo D’Arcangelo 1Professor David DiSarroEnglish 10120 February 2013 Energy Drinks Should be Banned or Regulated Americans are known for expressing themselves, enjoying their freedom, showing offtheir livelihood, and living in a fast-paced world. Every day, 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 (“Energy Drinks Pose” para 1).This increase in the consumption of energy drinks has many side effects on teenagers, most ofwhich are negative. Kids think they are helping themselves stay awake and can accomplishmuch more after drinking an energy drink, but what they do not know is that these drinks canlead to many health problems such as dizziness, high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks, andeven death (“Energy Drinks Pose” para 2). Through much investigation and research fromcreditable doctors and scientists, it is evident that energy drinks are extremely dangerous toadolescents, and should be banned in the United States or at least regulated, including modifyingthe amount of harmful ingredients or the minimum age in which you are allowed to purchasethese harmful drinks.
D’Arcangelo 2 According to a journal published by The New York Times, in 2012, the energy drinkindustry had approximately $10 billion in sales (para 4). The majority of these consumers wereunder the age of 35, (Meier, para 4). Most young adults are unaware that the manufacturers ofthese drinks market their products as dietary supplements. In doing this, these drinks are notregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The negative effect of this is that manufacturersare not limited to amount of caffeine they use in the making of these drinks, and they do not evenhave to disclose this information or other harmful ingredients (McLellan and Lieberman, para 8).The majority of these “miracle” drinks actually have extremely high amounts of dangerous anddamaging ingredients such as caffeine, ginseng, glucose, guarana, taurine. Most energy drinkscontain about 140-170 milligrams of caffeine in a 14-16oz can (“Caffeine” para 1). This isdouble the amount of caffeine in and 8oz cup of coffee. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system,and in excessive amounts can cause dizziness, headaches, jitteriness, and you will become unableto fall asleep (“Energy Drinks Pose” para 2). When consuming this amount of caffeine in oneserving, adolescents become wired, only to significantly crash sooner than later. Energy drinksalso contain about 50-60 grams of glucose or sugar. This level of sugar in the blood can causeinsulin to go through the ceiling, which leads to the inability to burn fat, in turn causing obesity,(“Glucose” para 1). This is misleading because most energy drinks are marketed to increaseproductivity and weight lost from the high increase of energy, but they actually contain too muchsugar to burn off. Adolescents are misled, because these drinks can actually cause obesity.Guarana is also an ingredient commonly found in these drinks. Guarana comes from a SouthAmerican shrub and is also loaded with caffeine. In comparison to a coffee bean, a seed fromguarana has 4-5% caffeine, where as a coffee bean only has 1-2% caffeine, (“Guarana” para 1).
D’Arcangelo 3The combination of these ingredients in high dosages can be extremely harmful to person’shealth and can even cause death. Another dangerous fascination with energy drinks in mixing them with alcohol.According to a survey, as many as 51% of college students reported they had mixed alcohol withan energy drink, (Howland and Damarispara 1). This is extremely dangerous because of the highlevel of stimulants such as taurine, ginseng, and caffeine in energy drinks. Alcohol is adepressant, so when the two opposites are mixed together, it sends mixed signals to the centralnervous system and also causes cardio problems, (Howland and Damarispara 2). Also, alcoholseverely dehydrates people, causing intoxication. The high levels of caffeine and glucose in theenergy drinks also causes dehydration, and when the two are mixed together the combinationcauses the person to be increasingly intoxicated. This high level of caffeine also adds to aperson’s impaired judgment. Typically, a person drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink isperceived to be “more drunk” then a person just drinking alcohol; however, it does depend on theperson’s height and weight. This combination of alcohol and high levels of caffeine and otherharmful ingredients can be deadly. Adolescents are not even old enough to consume or purchasealcohol, so equally should not be old enough to consume or purchase energy drinks. A notableBritish health website concurs, advising, “Redbull should not be drunk with alcohol, or afterexercising,” (“Mail Online”para 1). They also reported three cases of death from thesesituations. The same website also states that Norway, Denmark, and France have banned energydrinks from all stores except for pharmacies, (“Mail Online”para 8). The reason for this isbecause they consider energy drinks as medicine or a drug due to its high caffeine content (Smith1).
D’Arcangelo 4 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, (Meier para 3). In 2007, 10,068 people reported emergency room visits againciting energy drinks as the cause, (Meier para 3). They also stated that there were no numberssubmitted for 2012. "Such problems, which are typically linked to excessive caffeineconsumption, can include anxiety, headaches, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks," (Meier para3). These statistics demonstrate that the number of cases of emergency room visits in the UnitedStates doubled between 2007 and 2011. Adolescents need to take this into account, and realizethat if nothing is regulated with these energy drinks, the rate of emergency room visits and evendeaths will continue to increase. Energy drinks are extremely dangerous whether mixed with alcohol or consumed byitself. At least 20 cases have been noted over the past 5 years in which the situation was deadly,(Meier para 8). In one particular case, a 14-year-old girl, Anais Fournier, from Hagerstown,Maryland, died in December, 2011. One thing to consider is Fournier did have a heart conditionknown as mitral valve prolapse. The affects of this condition includes one of the heart valves tomalfunction. Fournier was shopping at a local mall the night of December 16, 2011, when shepurchased a 24-ounce can of “Monster” energy drink. On December 17, 2011 she drank asecond 24-ounce can of the same energy drink. Apparently she consumed two 24-ounce cans ofthis energy drink within 24 hours. Later that night on December 17, 2011, she was allegedly athome watching TV with her boyfriend when she unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest. Herparents immediately brought her to Meritus Medical Center, and she was later flown to JohnHopkins Hospital. Doctors at the John Hopkins Hospital were forced to place her in an induced
D’Arcangelo 5coma to keep her brain from swelling; however, she never regained consciousness. OnDecember 23, 2011, she was declared brain dead and her parents had to make an unfortunatedecision to pull her off life support. The parent of Anais Fournier are now filing a wrongfuldeath law suit against the Monster Beverage Corporation. Perhaps her mother, WendyCrossman, stated it best, “I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda,but not these huge energy drinks. With their bright colors and names like Monster, Redbull, andFull Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight oraccountability,”(Bonurapara 5). This is true because the energy drinks certainly target youngadolescents with their color schemes and advertisement, suggesting that kids can boost theirenergy and productivity with one can, not knowing what harmful ingredients really lay beneathits eye-catching marketing. Her mother also stated, “These drinks are death traps for young,developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais,” (Bonurapara 8). Obviously, the Monstercorporation is fighting the allegations, claiming that the allegations of the product were notresponsible for the death of Anais Fournier. “Caffeine can be lethal in doses ranging from 200 to400 milligrams,” (Bonurapara 10). The two cans of Monster energy drink that Anais consumedcontained 480 milligrams of caffeine which is equal to fourteen 12-ounce cans of soda. Inaddition to the caffeine, Monster also contains guarana, which contains caffeine and taurine.Taurine is said to have similar effects on cardiac mussels, (Bonurapara 15). The use of energy drinks should be banned for the sale to adolescences under the age of18, or at least regulated. We should not give naive children under the age of 18 the opportunityto hurt themselves by consuming an energy drink. Under age children are not allowed to buyharmful tobacco products that have long term negative effects, nor should they be able to buy
D’Arcangelo 6energy drinks, which may have immediate damaging side effects. The high levels of caffeineand other damaging ingredients should be reduced or controlled. There should be a limit to thenumber of dangerous ingredients that can be used in formulating an energydrink, includinglimiting the percentage of each ingredient. It is proven that these drinks can negatively affect aperson’s heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, motor activity including speech rate, alertnessand body temperature, which adolescents are unable to detect from the list of ingredients. Theyare unaware of what ingredients are actually put into these drinks, and if they are not regulated,the manufactures may continue to increase the levels of destructive ingredients to add anincreased “jolt” in these drinks. The false advertisement aiming toward adolescents isdestructive and misleading. If nothing is done to regulate these products, the rate of emergencyroom visits and death will unfortunately increase and become a reoccurring event.
D’Arcangelo 7 Works CitedBonura, Denise. Anais Fournier’s parents file wrongful death lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp. The Record Herald.com Retrieved 5 Februrary2012.Howland, JohnathanPhD, MPH; Damaris J. Rohsenow, PhD. Risks of Energy Drinks when Mixed with Alcohol, The Journal of American Medical Association. Published 16 January 2013.Loeb, Heather. “Do the Ingredients in Energy Drinks Work?” MH Lists. Web. Retrieved 6 February 2013.McLellan, TM; Lieberman, Hr.Do Energy Drinks Contain Active Components other than Caffeine?Nutrition Reviews, 2012 Dec; Vol. 70 (12), pgs 730-44. Date of Electronic Publication: 2012 Nov 9.Medline Plus. "Energy Drinks Pose Risks to Teens,” U. S. National Library of Medicine. Published 1 February 2013.Meier, Barry. "More Visits to Hospital Linked to Energy Drinks." The New York Times. 12 January 2013.Smith, Geraint. "Three Deaths Linked to Energy Drink." Mail Online.Web. Retrieved 5 February 2013.