Q: Is regular consumption of energy drinks bad?

A: The drinks are promoted as a way to boost performance, alertness, and stamina.  Studies have found that 80% of athletes, 53% of military members, and 30% of college students frequently consume the drinks.

The drinks are classified as dietary supplements or food/beverages by the U.S. FDA. The primary ingredients in most drinks are high concentrations of caffeine / caffeine like stimulants.  The FDA classification allows loopholes for manufactures to have leeway on the exact contents of the drinks and the dietary labeling of the drinks.

Most healthy adults can consume a single energy drink.  However, multiple energy drinks are being consumed in one sitting or throughout the day.  The large amounts of caffeine consumed leads to caffeine toxicity in the body.  Symptoms include vomiting, tachycardia, hypotension, and excess sweating.  More severe adverse events include hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and heart attack.

From Oct 2010 to Sept 2011, 4,854 calls were logged by the US Poison Control concerning energy drink ingestion.  3,192 were related to energy drinks with adders (alcohol).  Of the remaining cases, 51% involved children under six years of age and 61% were males.

Energy drinks should not be:

  • Consumed by children/adolescents/pregnant women
  • Used for hydration before, during, or after activity
  • Used before, during, or after strenuous activity
  • Consumed before bed

The following website and article were referenced in answering the question