(NaturalHealth365) Thousands of people to date have faced serious, sometimes deadly side effects as a result of consuming energy drinks, and an alarming number of these victims have been children. The American Heart Association reported that between 2010 and 2013, 5,000+ people became sick due to consuming energy drinks, and about 40 percent of them were kids.
The severe side effects from these drinks included seizures, elevated blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. Many of the young children who drank these energy drinks did not know what they were consuming; they simply found them left around the home by an adult.
The grim realities of energy drinks
Most energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine. However, the manufacturers also blend in other compounds such as l-carnitine, taurine, guarana, amino acids and ginseng. Despite this veritable mystery punch of ingredients, studies have not found that these drinks boost energy, focus or stamina any better than having a cup of coffee. In truth, the marketing hype of these beverages don’t tell the whole (ugly) story.
Along with this lack of efficacy, the drinks come with very real dangers and side effects. Dr. Steven Lipshultz and his colleagues have been examining the effects of these drinks for a number of years, and in 2011 noticed a marked surge in reported illnesses linked to their consumption.
A separate study conducted by the United States government found emergency-room visits between 2005 and 2011 that were related to energy-drink consumption surged as well. A host of alarming side effects were also reported, including seizures, liver damage, heart issues and in some cases, death.
Drinks with additives like plant extracts and amino acids were found to be worse for people than those with just caffeine. Some theories hold that these assorted extracts might have components with unknown, undocumented effects, especially when combined with caffeine and other food additives.
A call for action: Why we need better labeling
A great number of the people who consume these energy drinks simply aren’t aware of their potentially dangerous side effects and their specific hazards to children. This causes adults to consume copious amounts of them while sometimes leaving the beverages unattended and accessible to young children.
Dr. Lipshultz recommends that even as these energy drinks are studied more closely, they should be affixed with a label similar to the Surgeon General warning placed on alcohol and cigarette packages. Doing so could alert adults to protect children (and themselves) from exposure to these controversial drinks.
Experts warn about the dangers of energy drinks:
The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “the full impact of the rise in popularity of energy drinks has not yet been quantified, but the aggressive marketing of energy drinks targeted at young people, combined with limited and varied regulation have created an environment where energy drinks could pose a significant threat to public health.”
The extreme level of caffeine (mixed with other suspicious ingredients) can cause palpitations, hypertension, vomiting, convulsions and in extreme cases heart failure leading to sudden death. An even greater risk is the mixture of these energy drinks with alcohol and food additives – which many younger people tend to consume in excess.
In August 2014, professor Milou-Daniel Drici, from France, gave a presentation to the European Society of Cardiology in which he said:
”So-called ‘energy drinks are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death.”
Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, in Detroit, says ‘although the target markets for energy drinks are typically teens and young adults, more than 40 percent of reports to U.S. poison control centers in a three-year period involved children under the age of 6.’
Young or old, energy drinks are putting both children and adults at risk. Regardless of age, the potential dangers are the same: seizures, heart issues, high blood pressure, and kidney problems. With coffee providing a similar benefit, it’s hard to see how the health risks are worth the chemically-induced “boost” that energy drinks provide.