They’re staples on the shelves at convenience stores. With names like 5 Hour Energy, Rockstar, Monster and Red Bull, energy drinks are clearly attracting a young fan base., including Brian Stanton.
“I like them for traveling or playing sports - something to give me an extra booster in the morning,” says Brian Stanton.
But claims linking some energy drinks to harmful side effects, even death has the FDA and doctors raising the caution flag.
“The main thing to know about the energy drinks is the amount of caffeine in them and they are not required to tell you how much caffeine they have in them,” says Dr. Julia Fashner, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
These products can contain, roughly, 160-215 mg of caffeine. That’s about triple found in soft drinks, and twice as much as a regular coffee. Mix in other ingredients and in some people it may become a toxic cocktail.
“And it’s sitting right next to the can of soda. It’s sitting right next to the sports drinks, which have some benefits for electrolytes. These have no electrolytes they have all the caffeine, the guarana that turns into caffeine. It’s unregulated because it’s not branded to soda and it’s not branded as anything in the food industry,” says Dr. Fashner.
Stanton takes time to read the labels before grabbing and going.
“Something with low sugar or low carbs in there. Don’t want to hurt the body too bad,” says Stanton.
But admits he never missed what wasn’t there.
Does it say caffeine or how much caffeine?
“I don’t think it says how much caffeine it has,” says Stanton.
Another concern is whether teens and younger kids should be drinking them at all.
“I drank them as a teenager. But not little kids, no,” says Stanton.
“They have a smaller body size than adults. And so the caffeine will have more milligrams in their body system for how much they weigh and this will have more safety concerns and more negative side effects for those children or adolescence than for any adult,” says Dr. Fashner.
Coupled with a lack of information and regulation, it’s safe to say these energy drinks may be too hard-wired for kids.