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The Buzz about Energy Drinks

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Adam Watanabe, Staff Writer

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The words “rockstar,” “monster” and “red bull” are commonly used these days, but they don’t mean teen sensations, night time troubles or rosy bovines. They are all types of energy drinks.

Energy drinks have soared in the last decade with a reported 30% of teens consuming them. In a sales report by the Symphony IRI Group, companies like those previous mentioned had sales in the billions by the first quarter of last year.

While energy drinks are the buzz among young people, their safety is questionable. The levels of caffeine in most types of drinks exceed that of coffee. According to manufacturers, the average eight ounce energy drink contains up to three times as much caffeine as a cup of coffee the same size.

This has doctors concerned. According to the American Association of Pediatricians, overdoses of caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, vomiting and seizures. Drinks also contain L-Carnitine, ginseng and guarana. All of these ingredients produce similar effects.

The problem even got the attention of the Federal government. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating Monster Energy Drinks due to five deaths relating to possible caffeine toxicity.

It would seem logical for the FDA to simply limit the amount of caffeine that companies can use. But it isn’t that simple. By law, soda cannot have more than .o2% parts caffeine. However energy drinks aren’t classified in this same category. They classify their caffeine as a “supplement.”

Lawmakers can solve this problem in two ways.  They could limit the amount of caffeine in energy drinks or they could set a minimum age of eighteen.

The first option seems more simple. If there isn’t as much caffeine in the drinks then teens can buy them and not be at as much risk. But what if adolescents buy more drinks for the same buzz? This would push companies to raise prices across the board thus increasing their profit. This is would be a win for big energy drink companies.

The second option is more complicated. There would be no small amount of fuss in states where the drinks are produced. Whatever the cost, the priority of lawmakers should be to protect adolescents from harmful substances. This measure is underway in Kentucky. If Kentucky can, perhaps states across the nation will follow.

Energy drink fans would argue that the drink provides them the kick they need in the mornings. Bingham junior Cameron Runyan, who usually drinks two Red Bulls a day, says that the drinks make him feel better. He also says they make him feel carefree and spontaneous. Small doses of caffeine may have no effect on a person, but large doses have serious side effects. According to Druginfo.adf.org the long- term effects include osteoporosis, ulcers, anxiety and depression.

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The Buzz about Energy Drinks