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Energy Drink Craze Creating a Public Health Risk?

Posted on | May 7, 2013 | No Comments

Energy Drink Craze Creating a Public Health Risk?

Energy Drinks - Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar

While many treat energy drinks as just another carbonated version of a caffeinated drink, it’s actually a whole ‘other ballgame altogether. At the end of last year, the FDA investigated an energy drink company after the death of a 14-year-old girl was believed to have been caused by an “overdose” of energy drink taken in a 24-hour period. Her autopsy showed that she died from cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. Though the medical examiner showed that she also had a genetic predisposition to weakened blood vessels, the role of energy drinks in the detrimental effects on public health still looms large.

Can We Really Call Energy Drinks a Public Health Threat?

It may sound extreme, but the consumption of energy drinks is one the rise. Last year energy drink sales raised by 17 percent making energy drink companies $9 billion. So the fact that a large number of the public is drinking them is proven. Now as to whether they are a threat to public health that gets a little trickier to claim. We can say that there are plenty of detrimental health scenarios caused by energy drinks. In 2009, at least 13,000 emergency room visits were associated with energy drinks. Not quite an epidemic, but a large enough number to raise some eyebrows.

Keep chugging

How Much Caffeine is Actually in an Energy Drink?

Well, the answer to this question is actually a reason for concern. While the FDA limits the amount of caffeine in soda to no more than .02 percent, energy drinks do not have any such limitations. How does the energy drink genre avoid this restriction? They call themselves “supplements” to avoid regulation. So next time you reach for a zing zang drink, remember that the herbal inclusions are not monitored. Some levels of caffeine are healthy, but those in energy drinks can be, as we’ve seen, lethal. According to a study done in France, while caffeine does increase the energy being metabolized throughout the brain, it actually restricts cerebral blood flow.

What Are We Replacing with Energy Drinks and Why it’s Not Effective

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Humans get tired because their bodies are communicating with them. They need sleep. They need food. They need water. They need sunlight. If a consumer gets a warning from their body that they need to address an issue and instead reaches for an energy drink to address that issue, they are replacing a necessity with a band aid. The need for sleep, water, and sunlight will still be there even if the energy comes back through the boost of caffeine. Our bodies shouldn’t need “energy shots,” according to Dr. Lorraine Maita, a board certified intern from New Jersey. Most studies show that you will end up feeling worse than you started when you drink energy drinks.

Our culture is becoming increasingly caught up in a “have now – pay later” frame of mind and that mindset is absolutely a threat to public health at large. Energy drinks, when abused, can definitely affect a person’s health to lethal extents. So next time you feel fatigue coming on, drink water, take a nap, or sit in the sunlight. If you’re thinking you’d rather take the quick-fix route, your body could be a next victim.

Tracy Rentz writes about the lastest fads in that effect our health and their consequences. The University of Southern California offers several health degrees that qualify you to work in the health sector.

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