Judy Foreman, writing for The Boston Globe online, assured readers that energy drinks are not fatally dangerous. To prove her point, she quoted Roland Griffiths , a psychopharmacologist, who said that caffeine “is relatively benign and is not associated with life-threatening health risks. ” In an article entitled “Are ‘energy drinks’ bad for you? ” she explained that although energy drinks cannot kill, it is not advisable for young people because they contain nothing but lots of caffeine and sugar.
She cited the findings of the study conducted the previous year by Bruce A. Goldberger which showed that while we are only getting about 100 mg. of caffeine from 6-ounces of coffee, an 8. 4-ounce energy drink contains as much as 280 mg. of caffeine (particularly the Cocaine brand). For this reason, she said that she did not agree with the way energy drinks are being peddled especially to kids and teenagers because, according to her, the large quantities of caffeine they contain cause nervousness, jerkiness, or even sleeplessness.
She feared that energy drinks might cause caffeine addiction among America’s teenagers, aside from contributing to the problem of obesity faced by many children and teenagers today, due to their high sugar content. Gloria McVeigh, in the article entitled “Do energy drinks work? ” was not concerned with the health risks associated with energy drinks. While she agreed with Foreman that energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and sugar (she added “natural stimulants” to her ingredients), she did not associate energy drinks with caffeine addiction and obesity as Foreman did.
She merely cautioned drinkers that they are likely to feel exhausted after the effect of the drinks (which she described as “high-wire energy”) subsides. According to McVeigh, energy drinks, which produce “short, intense bursts of energy,” are all right for athletes because they are easily used up in their activities. McVeigh appeared unconvinced by the efficacy of energy drinks as she advised readers to turn to fresh fruits for their energy requirements and avoid feeling jerky just as Foreman said they would.
Meanwhile, a Health Education study at Brown University defined energy drinks as beverages which do not only contain a high concentration of caffeine, but also “ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng,” which are considered legal stimulants. Brown’s legal stimulants approximate McVeigh’s “natural stimulants. ” It also agreed with Foreman and McVeigh that energy drinks are loaded with caffeine but qualified that while the caffeine contained by energy drinks is indeed high for beverages (Mountain Dew contains 37 mg. of caffeine and Coca-Cola Classic has only 23 mg. , the Brown study said that the 80 mg. of caffeine found in energy drinks is only equal to the caffeine content of a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, in an article entitled “Caffeine and Energy Boosting Drugs: Energy Drinks,” readers were warned to be careful with these drinks because they could stimulate the heart to pump faster and raise blood pressure due to the predominance of stimulants. For people who are already prone to heart disease and hypertension, this was a grave warning. The article also pointed out that energy drinks should not be mixed with exercise.
It pointed out that since energy drinks, with their high caffeine content, are diuretics, their urine-inducing effect, when combined with the liquid being lost while perspiring, could result in severe dehydration. This finding appears to contradict McVeigh who opined that energy drinks are not harmful to athletes who could just burn them off with physical activity. Just as Foreman voiced her disagreement on the widespread sale of energy drinks to kids and teenagers, this study was similarly concerned by the fact that energy drinks are readily available to students in colleges and universities.
Another point of agreement between the Brown study and Foreman’s findings is the sleeplessness resulting from consuming energy drinks. The article also examined the effects of energy drinks when mixed with alcohol as is customarily done in bars nowadays. Here, it issued serious warnings. First, the stimulating effect of energy drinks overcomes the depressing effect of alcohol, thereby giving the drinker a false feeling of soberness. This feeling of being sober in spite of the presence of alcohol in the body urges the drinker to drink more because he or she feels that he or she is still far from being drunk.
Without the stimulating effect of energy drinks, the drinker is apt to feel alcohol intoxication earlier because of fatigue. The study warned that this feeling of being sober while one’s motor abilities are, in fact, already impaired due to the effect of alcohol, could be very dangerous to drinkers. The implied warning was that drinkers could easily slip and get hurt, or could even get themselves killed in vehicular accidents in case they decide to drive themselves home in such a condition.
As in the case with exercise, the Brown study likewise cautioned readers that the diuretic effect of energy drinks could combine with the dehydrating effect of alcohol to cause severe dehydration. Foreman, McVeigh, and the Brown study all agreed that energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, although only Foreman and McVeigh claimed that energy drinks are also loaded with sugar. However, while McVeigh did not specify the caffeine content of energy drinks, Foreman cited a Goldberger study which showed as much as 280 mg. of caffeine in an 8. 4-ounce energy drink.
The Brown study, on the other hand, while similarly claiming that the caffeine found in energy drinks was significantly high for beverages, showed that energy drinks contained only “as much as 80 mg. of caffeine” or the same amount contained in a cup of coffee. On the other hand, the findings of the Brown study showing the presence of legal stimulants such as “ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng,” coincided with the claim of McVeigh that energy drinks contain “natural stimulants. ” Although the three authors were in general agreement as to the contents of energy drinks, they more or less differed on the effects of energy drinks on the population.
McVeigh said that energy drinks are all right for athletes who could easily burn them through their physical activities while Foreman warned against caffeine addiction and obesity among kids and teenagers. The Brown study, on the other hand, warned against the danger of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Finally, when Foreman expressed her disagreement with the current marketing thrust being waged by energy drinks manufacturers aimed at children and teenagers, the Brown study concurred that energy drinks should not be made readily available to students of colleges and universities.