Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fall-out from Energy Drinks

I was just talking to someone in our sports department a week or so ago about the increase in the use of energy drinks by teenagers. He said he was shocked by the use of them at a recent cheerleading competition. He said there were people walking around with energy drinks on trays and girls were grabbing them and downing them as if they were shots at a party. That just seems wrong to me. I was a cheerleader and a dancer and we never took shots of caffeine before a performance.

FROM NBC: Energy drinks are the beverage of choice for nearly half of all teens -- a fact that has experts concerned. The drinks have unknown -- and often high -- amounts of caffeine, and ingredients that haven't been tested on young adults. Now new research reveals serious side effects in teens who had energy drinks. Energy drinks offer an instant buzz, but they might have a permanent effect on teens.

Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien, M.D./ Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center:
"We know for a fact that children and teens do not tolerate caffeine as well as adults do." What's also known -- teens account for half of the energy drink market. According to new research from the University of Miami, 48 percent of the nearly 55-hundred caffeine overdoses reported in the U.S. in 2007 were in children younger than nineteen.

Dr. Steven Lipshultz/University of Miami "Almost all of them have physiologic effects." Some of the overdose cases may have been a combination of energy drinks and alcohol -- but experts say a jolt of caffeine alone is enough to cause symptoms of an overdose in young people. Dr.Steven Lipshultz, M.D./University of Miami: "Their heart is beating faster, fluttering, palpitating, they may feel nauseous, they may feel light headed." Energy drinks aren't the only way kids get caffeine- they are also big soda drinkers, but there's a difference between the two.

Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien/ Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: "The amount of caffeine in soda is regulated, the amount of caffeine in energy drinks is not." The American Beverage Association issued a statement saying the FDA has deemed caffeine safe, and that "most mainstream energy drinks actually contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffehouse coffee." Some experts argue coffee may not have the same effect, despite the high caffeine.

Dr.Mary Claire O'Brien, M.D./ Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center:
"Coffee has to be sipped, in general, because it's consumed hot. Whereas energy drinks are uniformly cold, and therefore can be chugged." It promises to be a topic of debate -- and more research -- for years to come. Some teens are more susceptible than others to the effects of energy drinks, like those with heart diseases, diabetes, seizure disorders, and ADHD.

The researchers say this study is meant to jump start conversations between parents and teens about energy drinks -- and serve as a reminder to pediatricians that the drinks need to be discussed during patient exams.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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