More on Energy Drink 'Dangers'

March 6/El Paso, Texas/El Paso Times -- Energy drinks have hit the national spotlight after an article about them was published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The article's authors, all doctors, warned against energy drinks like Monster that claim to "improve energy, weight loss, stamina, athletic performance and concentration."

John Haynes, a medical toxicology specialist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, said energy drinks should not be consumed regularly by adolescents.

"They basically are a stimulus attack on the body," Haynes said. "In normal kids, it agitates them and maybe causes them to do something they regularly wouldn't do."

The Pediatrics article concluded that the drinks "have no therapeutic benefit" and that the combination of ingredients "raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects," especially when used by adolescents or young adults.

The American Beverage Association, which represents hundreds of beverages including most energy drinks, released a statement in response to the article.

"Young adults getting coffee from popular coffeehouses are getting about twice as much caffeine as they would from a similar size energy drink," Dr. Maureen Storey, the association's senior vice president of science policy, said the statement.

However, the drinks often come with warnings such as "not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, or those sensitive to caffeine" printed near the nutrition facts.

Of the brands obtained by the El Paso Times, only Red Bull did not include a warning.

Monster's cans read, "Consume responsibly -- limit 3 cans per day."

However, that does not stop energy drinks from growing in popularity among younger people, and it does not curtail the growing threat associated with them.

Some of these brands advertise themselves for sporting events.

A Rockstar can reads, "For those who lead active and exhausting lifestyles -- from athletes to rock stars." Monster Absolutely Zero's can reads, "Motivates you to work (I mean play) harder."

Red Bull's website said its product is for "mental and physical exertion," best "prior to demanding athletic activities."

"It is recommended to drink one can of Red Bull Energy Drink before the start of a concentration task, the start of a race or game in sports," the website said.

It goes on to state, "Since Red Bull Energy Drink has not been formulated to deliver re-hydration, we encourage people who engage in sports to also drink lots of water during intense exercise."

However, the American Beverage Association does not encourage energy drinks as sports drinks.

"Energy drinks are functional beverages, and not sports drinks," Storey said in an e-mail. "Athletes should consult with a certified sports nutritionist or sports medicine health professional for advice on how best to enhance their performance and hasten recovery after strenuous exercise."

In 2000, an 18-year-old girl in Ireland died after sharing four cans of Red Bull before playing basketball, according to a 2007 report by the Marin Institute, an alcohol watchdog group that conducted a study on mixing of energy drinks with alcohol.

Pediatrics also documented a similar case of a 17-year-old girl collapsing at the end of a track race with chest pain after skipping breakfast and drinking two or three cans of Red Bull regularly.

Though the deaths may not have been directly connected to energy drinks, experts say, the beverages did not help.

From the March 7, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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