Energy drinks are not food.
The Food & Drug Administration regulates all products defined as food to ensure they’re safe for human consumption. For instance, Coffee drinks and soda are not allowed to be too high in caffeine, lest they cause heart problems.
However, energy drinks are classified as supplements. This means they’re unregulated and manufacturers are free to shove as much caffeine inside a single can as they please. To top it all, they can even mix caffeine with other stimulants in such a way that could cause cardiovascular or nervous system problems.
This is more of a reason why physicians have been trying to investigate what the health effects of these caffeinated cocktails might be. Apparently, a new study that shows a single drink can diminish blood vessel function is making headlines, but similar findings have been accruing for years now.
A lot of the concern about these drinks come from their high concentrations of stimulants. It is entirely possible to overdose on caffeine alone and in combination with guarana, another stimulant, smaller amounts might have drastic effects.
The World Health Organization published a meta-analysis of energy drink studies that noted that:
“The health risks associated with energy drink consumption are primarily related to their caffeine content.” Overdosing on caffeine doesn’t necessarily result in death, but it can cause heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, metabolic acidosis, and hypertension. And it can eventually lead to death.”
The organization’s study also reports that adults who consume energy drinks may be increasing their risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. This is because caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity.
In recent years, two teenage boys have died after consuming energy drinks and throwing up worryingly. The popularity of energy drinks is evidenced by skyrocketing sales that grew by a whopping 5000 percent from 1994 to 2014.
The most frequent drinkers fall in the age group between 18 to 38 years old. One-third of teenagers are also hooked on energy drinks because manufacturers advertise the drinks to the youth – most especially teenagers – at various sporting events, social media and TV channels.
Despite the WHO’s recommendation that caffeine content is limited per beverage, energy drinks in the U.S. are still totally unregulated and it remains that way unless they get reclassified as a food. In the meantime, you should probably stop drinking them. Though they may not be dangerous in small quantities, nothing about them is healthy.
According to WedMD, these are causes for concern to those that take energy drinks:
It hampers Growth in Children. A professor at the University of Chicago, Holly J. Benjamin warns that high intake of caffeine negatively affects the body from head to toe. A child’s brain development, heart, muscles and bone development are at risk if consumed in excess.
Energy drinks are worse when mixed with alcohol and it is high in sugar. Energy drinks have around 7 to 14 teaspoons of sugar, and heavy sugar consumption through energy drinks has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Also, due to the high sugar content, it can cause tooth erosion in young people.
It causes heart Trouble. Robert Segal, the founder of Manhattan Cardiology, said that an 8-ounce cup of energy drink could contain 100 mg to 350 mg of caffeine. Segal warned that caffeine in large amounts compromises the dilation capacity of blood vessels.
And to top it all, The Food and Drugs Administration is yet to approve all Ingredients. No research has been conducted by the FDA per se to verify all the ingredients used in making energy drinks, and the anecdotal evidence could be misleading.