Unleash the Energy Beast

Brightly colored aluminum cans rest on the store shelves, each one promising an electrifying experience to those who drink their empowering beverage. These “high stimulant beverages,” better known as energy drinks, have been gaining ground since 1997 when Red Bull was first introduced to the United States.


In recent years, energy drinks have grown in popularity particularly among high school and college students. In an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, it was reported in a survey that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks.


“I began drinking Sugar Free Red Bull in place of pop. They’re a smaller can, so just I just drink them if I need a little energy later in the day,” history teacher Brad Jones said. “I’m aware of the risks they pose and I try to avoid the sugar content which is why I drink the Sugar Free.”


According to information compiled from BevNET.com by Energy Fiend, Red Bull sold $2.3 billion worth of sales in 2011 and $2.95 billion in 2012.


“They’re used as a supplement, but you don’t know what’s in them,” athletic trainer Mitch Smelis said. “Just because the marketing says they’re this great thing, kids think it’s okay to drink them.”


As reported by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), 58 percent of the energy drink-related Emergency Department visits were caused by energy drinks alone. As reported by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, outcomes include liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory disorders, agitation, seizures, psychotic conditions, rhabdomyolysis, tachycardia, cardiac dysrhythmias, hypertension, heart failure, and death.


“I think most people don’t drink energy drinks because they’re bad for you and they can become addictive,” sophomore Emma Lane said. “The cans should be smaller so if people do drink them, they won’t drink as much.”


At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in July, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut brought up the health issues caused by energy drinks. They began to advocate a ban to prevent energy drink companies from advertising to minors.


“Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people,” Robert Mills of the American Medical Association (AMA) said. “AMA policy supports a ban on the marketing of high stimulant/caffeine drinks to adolescents under the age of 18.”


Energy drinks are available in every grocery store, at every gas station, and are being found more and more in the refrigerators of teens and college students. With each person that is sent to the ER because of too much “energy,” another one finally understands the danger of these drinks.