Doctors call for limits on caffeine in energy drinks
A group of physicians, public health officials and researchers have called on the government to limit the amount of caffeine in popular energy drinks, according to the New York Times. A letter sent to Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, yesterday summarizes the negative impacts that caffeine can have on teens, and recommends the FDA move to “take prompt action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks.”
The group cites the popularity of energy drinks among teens, noting that sales of the beverages will reach $19.7 billion by 2013, and that many of the energy drinks do not disclose caffeine amounts on their labels. The negative cardiovascular impact on teens is also outlined in the letter, stating, “The consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks has been associated with elevated blood pressure, altered heart rates, and severe cardiac events in children and young adults, especially those with underlying cardiovascular diseases.”
Mary Carroll, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., cautions teens against drinking too much caffeine for other reasons, as well. “Teens need as much sleep as young children—sometimes more than nine hours a night—and they may not get that if they’re consuming caffeine. This can lead to insomnia, erratic energy levels, mood swings, and having trouble staying awake at school or even while driving,” she says.
The group also calls for “applying the existing Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) standard for sodas to energy drinks and other beverages that contain caffeine as an additive. “We also urge the FDA to require that manufacturers include caffeine content on product labels.”
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