Researchers have found that energy drinks are bad for the health, warning that serious risks outweigh the short-term benefits advertised with the products.
In a study published in Frontiers in Public Health, researchers detailed the results of a review carried out to thoroughly examine the nutritional content, advertised benefits, and any negative effects consuming energy drinks may have. Based on their research, they found that some of the health risks associated with energy drinks are risk-seeking behavior, higher blood pressure, mental health problems, kidney damage, and obesity.
"The evidence suggests they are harmful to health and should be limited through more stringent regulation by restricting their sales to children and adolescents," said Dr. Josiemer Mattei, one of the authors of the study, adding an upper limit on safe caffeine consumption based on evidence should also be established.
The researchers admit their review is limited to only a few studies that tackled energy drinks and most of them are mainly focused on young, healthy adults. Further studies will have to be done to explore the effects of other ingredients in energy drinks and assess the long-term effects of consumption, but the presence of serious health risks are clear.
Other authors of the study include Martha Tamez, Scott Richardson, Chang Lu, Kelsey Vercammen, and Laila Al-Shaar.
What Makes Energy Drinks Bad?
Most of the energy drinks sold in the market today contain similar ingredients: non-nutritive stimulants like ginseng, taurine and guarana, minerals, certain vitamins, caffeine, sugar, and water. However, some products can have up to 100mg of caffeine for every fluid ounce, which is eight times more than the 12mg that a regular coffee would have.
There is little research on tolerable levels of caffeine for children and adolescents, but the recommended intake for adults is up to 400mg. Based on the study, the health risks uncovered are mostly related to the high caffeine and sugar levels present in energy drinks.
Energy Drink Trends
According to Mattei, the energy drink industry has dramatically grown over the past two decades, resulting in a market in the United States worth almost $10 billion a year. Typically, energy drinks are touted as a healthy beverage people can turn to in boosting their concentration, athletic performance, stamina, and energy.
However, what Mattei and colleagues have discovered is that consuming energy drinks has important consequences for one's health and not much is known about the stimulants the product contains. Additionally, they highlighted the worrying act of mixing alcohol and energy drinks. This masks inebriation, which makes an individual think they can still drink more, upping chances of alcohol poisoning and dehydration.