Energy drinks under increased scrutiny

By Tiffane Stuckenschneider

Red Bull promises to “give you wings,” Rockstar encourages you
to “party like a rockstar” and Monster tells you to “unleash the
beast.”

The Food and Drug Administration, health experts and a state
legislature, however, are scrutinizing energy drink advertisements
for not informing consumers of risky stimulants, according to
Boston University’s The Daily Free Press.

Stimulants found in energy drinks such as guarana and
synephrine, alternatives to FDA-banned ephedra, do not require FDA
approval.

In February, Kentucky legislator Danny Ford proposed minors
should not be allowed to purchase energy drinks.

“My parents always said cigarettes weren’t a big deal 20 years
ago. Then everyone started getting cancer,” said Nick Spagnola, a
third-year political science student whose drink of choice is Red
Bull.

“I don’t know what long-term effects those drinks will
have.”

Last April, the FDA tightened its regulations when Redux
Beverages began pushing a product called Cocaine Energy Drink.

While it did not contain any illegal substances, it’s slogan as
the “legal alternative” and references to retailers as “dealers”
violated FDA guidelines about marketing and false or misleading
labels.

Redux voluntarily recalled the product but has since re-released
the same formula under the changed name Censored. The newest
product creating a buzz is simply labeled Blow.

Consumers are supposed to add Blow to a drink of their choice,
creating an instant energy boost.

Using the street name for cocaine, this powdery substance is
sold in vials and as of now, can only be found online.

In 2006, teens and young adults spent almost $3.5 billion on
energy drinks, up 75 percent from the year prior.

With a target demographic of people 30 and under, taking
specific aim at college students, the energy drink industry is
ever-popular and continuing to expand.

The average energy drink contains as much caffeine as one
8-ounce cup of plain coffee. Over-consumption of caffeine can have
negative effects, even in regular users.

“Part of the problem stems from the use of energy drinks that
often contain large amounts of caffeine but are not required to
label caffeine content,” said Carla Jackson, a health educator at
Student Health Services. “Because students may be unaware that
these energy drinks contain caffeine, they may use them on top of
their current caffeine intake patterns.”

While not listed on the packaging, Monster contains 160
milligrams of caffeine. SoBe No Fear comes in second with 158
milligrams, and Full Throttle rounds out the top three at 144
milligrams.

At first glance, Red Bull seems mild with its 80 milligrams, but
its serving size is 8.5 ounces as opposed to the others’ 16 ounces.
In a 16-ounce serving, Red Bull’s caffeine level is similar to the
other drinks.

“Even the most seasoned caffeine user can use too much, termed
caffeine intoxication,” said Jackson.

Symptoms of caffeine intoxication include restlessness,
nervousness, insomnia, flushed face, excessive urination, diarrhea,
twitching and irregular heartbeat.

“Most people don’t have any negative consequences from their
caffeine habits, especially if they tolerate caffeine well and
consume in moderation, usually defined as two to three cups of
brewed coffee per day – no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine,”
said Jackson. “But some people, especially the infrequent caffeine
user or the less caffeine-tolerant, can exhibit a variety of ill
consequences.”

Many students have admitted to experiencing some of these
symptoms as a result of caffeine use.

“I get really hyper, and then I totally crash,” said second-year
management and human resources student Alissa Benavidez, who
prefers Red Bull and Rockstar.

Jen Shader, a first-year liberal studies student, said she
stopped consuming energy drinks because she felt ill after
combining Red Bull and Monster.

“My heart started racing,” said Shader. “Afterwards I got
really, really tired.”

Energy drinks under increased scrutiny

Allen Chen/The Poly Post

Energy drinks under increased scrutiny

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