Los Angeles News
Study Released About Energy Drink Risks
By Katherine Noland
Jan 17, 2013 - 6:22:22 PM

Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster, sponsor extreme sports targeting young, athletic individuals.
LOS ANGELES—According a recent study, there has been significant increase in ER visits associated with the consumption of energy drinks. The DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network) Report released a published study in November 2011 and it has recently been updated with new findings about the risks of consuming energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar.


The updated version of the report, published on January 10, 2013 by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), focuses on the doubling of emergency room visits from 2007 until 2011 as a result of energy drink intake.


ER visits as a result of energy drink consumption started at 10,000 in 2007 and doubled to 20,000, according to the report. The updated survey of U.S. hospitals also notes on the largest increase of hospital visits being by patients in their forties (up by 279% from 2007-2011), despite the product’s assumed target audience being children and young adults.


The original study, released on November 22, 2011, saw a tenfold increase of ER visits related to energy drink consumption from 2005 until 2009, with 1,128 visits in 2005, 16,053 in 2008, and 13,114 visits in 2009. Another study that was cited in this article reported that those who drink alcohol with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to leave the bar “highly intoxicated,” and 4 times more likely to drive while intoxicated. The study cited in the DAWN report speculates that this sense of courage to drive along with skewed judgment is a result of caffeine’s ability to mask certain symptoms of being intoxicated, such as feeling lethargic.


The original, 2011 version of the DAWN report claimed that 52% of patients visiting the ER for energy drink consumption were also combining the drink with other drugs, including Adderall, Ritalin, and alcohol. The newly updated report saw there has been an increase to 58% of patients visiting the ER for energy drink consumption who were just drinking the caffeinated beverage.


SAMHSA and the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality argue, “consumption of energy drinks is a rising public health problem because medical and behavioral consequences can result from excessive caffeine intake,” according to the DAWN report. Behavioral consequences are said to include sexual risk taking, fighting, smoking, drinking, etc. It is believed that physical problems as a result of excessive energy drink consumption include arrhythmias, hypertension, dehydration, and sleeplessness. The study also argues that already existing physical and mental problems can play a part in how energy drink consumption will affect the mind and body, such as prior cardiac conditions, eating disorders, diabetes and anxiety disorders.


The American Beverage Association (ABA) released a statement to the public on January 16 in regard to recent findings in the report. Despite the report claiming that these drinks contain anywhere from 80-500 milligrams, comparing that to the 100 milligrams of caffeine found in a 5 oz. cup of coffee, the ABA stated that most mainstream energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee. They also refuted this article, calling it “more sensational than substantive.”


The ABA puts the actual role of energy drinks in these visits into question, stating, “We know nothing about the overall health of these individuals, if they had consumed other caffeinated products, taken medications or accurately self-reported any of the above. Nor do we know what symptoms or incidents brought them to the ER in the first place. Without this information it’s impossible to understand the actual role ”“ if any ”“ of energy drinks in these hospital visits."

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