Use of Energy Drinks Continues to Rise

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on October 3, 2019 · 0 comments

Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine plus other plant-based stimulants (like guarana), amino acids (like taurine), herbs (like ginkgo biloba) and vitamins. They were introduced in the US in 1997. Their caffeine content ranges from 50 to 500 milligrams a serving, compared to approximately 95 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup of coffee. The FDA requires brands to note if the energy drink contains caffeine but they do not require a listing of the actual amount and the FDA has not set a limit on the amount of caffeine allowed per serving.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that the use of energy drinks has grown among US adolescents, young adults and middle-aged adults increasing their daily intake of sugar, caffeine, and calories. The US is one of the top energy drink markets in the world. In 2015, Americans drank over 87 billion gallons. Over the period of this study from 2003 to 2016 adolescents increased their daily caffeine intake from 52 to 227 milligrams, young adults from 135 to 278 milligrams and middle-aged adults from 219 to 349 milligrams. 

Energy drinks are marketed to reduce fatigue and improve mental and physical performance. Little, if any, information is provided on the negative consequences of the regular use of highly caffeinated, sugary drinks. There is particular concern about the increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol, a combination that often leads to the overconsumption of alcohol in young adults with an increase in alcohol-related incidents such as car accidents and sexual assaults. This is a public health issue that needs more attention. 

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