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The War On Energy Drinks Continues

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  October 2, 2013 03:16 PM

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The battle to protect children from the harmful effects of highly caffeinated, sugary energy drinks rages on.  Both a U.S. Senate committee and a pediatric association have decided to add to the artillery currently being used to educate the public about the potential dangers associated with the consumption of these drinks.  Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these products.

Last week, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and several of his senator colleagues sent letters to 17 major energy drink companies asking them to commit to voluntary steps to curtail the marketing and promotion of energy drink products to children and to stop selling these products in K-12 schools.  In the letters, the senators also requested that these companies agree to voluntarily label their products with the total amount of caffeine, as well as report to the FDA any adverse events associated with the consumption of energy drinks.

"Energy drink makers have been urging customers to consume too much of their products too fast and too young," said Senator Markey.  "We need all major energy drink companies to be good corporate actors and agree to these steps to address appropriate marketing and consumption of their products.  We need to ensure that kids and parents are protected from the negative health impacts of these products and are not subjected to deceptive marketing practices.  I urge all energy drink makers to commit to these commonsense and appropriate steps."

At the same time, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has adopted a resolution that the organization will work with the FDA to advocate for a ban on these stimulant drinks for individuals younger than 18 and to oppose the availability of free or discounted versions of these energy products to individuals younger than 18.  "(Energy drink manufacturers) are giving out free samples just around the corner from where we live, and kids are walking home with 5-hour Energy shots because these things are completely unregulated.  This is about (taking) time to look at the side effects and making sure to protect young people," said Sarah Nosal, MD, a member of AAFP.

In addition to providing up to 13 teaspoons of added sugars per can (see photo), these energy products have been shown to not only cause serious medical issues such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and heart palpitations, but research also suggests that they are a major cause of increased visits to hospital emergency rooms.  For more on what you need to know about these energy products, please see my previous blog post.

What do you think?  Should these products be regulated by the FDA and be prevented from being sold to young people?  Please post your comments below.

Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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