Energy Drinks Rise with Concerns

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Energy Drinks Rise with Concerns


MCLEAN, Va. – Sales of energy drinks and shots are soaring, just as medical concerns are increasing about the popularity of the high-caffeine drinks among young people, reported USA Today.

Energy drinks had 13.3 percent dollar sales growth in 2010 and received a "significant boost" from energy shot sales at convenience stores, says a report out this month from market research firm SymphonyIRI Group. This beat the other top 10 consumer packaged goods categories in grocery, drug, mass merchandise and convenience stores, excluding Walmart.

"Energy drinks have been one of the shining stars of the beverage universe over the last decade, with heady, double-digit growth," said Gary Hemphill of Beverage Marketing.

American Beverage Association science chief Maureen Storey said energy drinks are no worse than coffee. A 16-ounce cup of Starbucks' Pike Place coffee has 330 mg of caffeine. That size of latte has 160 mg -- the same as a 16-ounce can of the energy drink Monster Energy, which bills itself as "a killer energy brew" that "you can really pound down."

The Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of caffeine in soft drinks to 71 mg for 12 ounces but doesn't regulate the caffeine in energy drinks, coffee or tea.

Barbara Crouch, head of Utah's poison control center, said people typically don't "gulp" coffee like they do energy drinks and shots. This leads them to accumulate higher concentrations of caffeine more quickly, which can cause anxiousness, palpitations and "more significant heart-rhythm disturbances." She also worries about young athletes drinking them because they are dehydrating.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which started coding for energy drinks this year, received 340 reports about energy drinks from January through March 3. Most were minor. A recent report in Pediatrics warned about links between caffeine in energy drinks, high blood pressure, increased alcohol consumption and even addiction among young people.

Reports of people, including teens, with serious medical problems after consuming energy drinks are on the rise.

Monica Hassell, whose 27-year-old husband, Antonio, died of a heart attack that she says was caused by his heavy use of 5-Hour Energy shots, is suing the manufacturer, Living Essentials, reported USA Today. Company spokeswoman Elaine Lutz would not comment on the litigation but said 5-Hour Energy is a "safe and effective dietary supplement."