Study: Energy drink use by young people could lead to health problems

MIAMI — New research published in the Feb. 14 online edition of Pediatrics found that prolonged use of energy drinks by young people can lead to potentially adverse health outcomes.

Researchers at the University of Miami's Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine noted that in the United States, energy drinks were consumed by 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults, according to self-report surveys. Additionally, adolescent caffeine intake averaged 60 mg/day to 70 mg/day and ranged up to 800 mg/day, the researchers said.

After reviewing energy drink consumption among young people, the researchers found that the consumption of beverages that are a motley combination of caffeine, sugar, vitamins and herbal extracts could lead to such potential health problems as cardiac conditions, diabetes and bone mineralization. What's more, the researchers said, those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or eating disorders could worsen their conditions through energy drink consumption.

In 2007, approximately 5,448 caffeine overdoses were reported in the United States, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In nearly half of the cases (46%), these overdoses occurred among those younger than 19 years old.

The researchers concluded that pediatricians should screen patients for energy drink consumption and educate families on the potential effects of their use. The researchers also recommended that regulations of energy drink sales and consumption should be based on appropriate research.

In response to the study release, the American Beverage Association, which represents companies that manufacture and distribute nonalcoholic beverages in the United States, said that "[this] literature review does nothing more than perpetuate misinformation about energy drinks, their ingredients and the regulatory process."

Further, the ABA stated the caffeine overdose statistic cited by Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine researchers was misinterpreted, and that the cases reported referred to caffeine overdoses prompted by pharmaceutical exposures, not exposure to caffeine from foods or beverages.

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