Why drink a soda when you can infuse the power of an entire cup of premium coffee into an energy drink? Many people are choosing to consume energy drinks regularly because of the caffeine and vitamin content they contain. They promise to give an energy boost, but many of them also provide a crash later on.
The energy drink market is expected to exceed $21 billion in total annual sales by the end of 2017.
Energy Drink Consumption
Three primary companies dominate the energy drink industry: Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar. These drinks tend to be more popular amongst the younger demographics, but anyone who is looking to find a competitive edge or a need to stay productive after a long day at work will look at an energy drink as a potential alternative.
- The number of emergency room visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.
- There were more male patients than female patients at hospitals for energy drink consumption, but ER visits doubled from 2007 to 2011 for both male and female patients.
- In each year from 2007 to 2011, there were more patients aged 18 to 39 than patients in other age demographics involved in energy drink-related visits.
- 42% of ER visits that involved energy drink consumption also included the involvement of other drugs.
- In one study, bar patrons who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks were 3x more likely to leave a bar highly intoxicated and were 4x more likely to intend to drive while intoxicated than those who did not consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
- Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
It is fair to say that energy drinks are a serious public health epidemic. It isn’t just the high levels of caffeine consumption that are problematic, although irregular heartbeats, trouble breathing, and the development of panic attacks are all concerning issues. It’s the fact that people are more willing to attempt risky behaviors when they mix caffeine and other drugs together which brings out the true danger of energy drinks. Because nearly 1 in 2 energy drinks is consumed by someone under the age of 30, it is critically important to make sure that people are making appropriate choices for their beverages that won’t harm their health as best we can.
How Fast Are The Sales of Energy Drinks Growing?
- Sales of Red Bull exceeded $10.9 billion in the last year alone. Their worldwide revenues may exceed $5 trillion on any given year.
- More than 29 billion gallons of energy drink liquid is consumed by Americans every year.
- The average amount of caffeine in an 8 ounce energy drink is 80mg, but some 16 ounce cans may have as much as 344mg of caffeine – and sometimes more.
- In the U.S., 80% of adults consume caffeine every day, and the average adult has a daily intake of 200 mg.
- The level where someone starts to have caffeine toxicity symptoms is usually about 400 mg.
- A 12-oz. coffee from Starbucks will run you about 260 mg, while a 14-oz. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee contains 178 mg.
- Just 50 mg of caffeine has the potential to induce tachycardia and agitation.
- 34 deaths have been linked to energy drinks since 2004, with half occurring since 2012. 22 of those deaths have been linked to 5 Hour Energy drinks.
- In 2011, retail sales increased by 12.5% overall for energy drinks and by 15-30% for Red Bull and Rockstar.
What is interesting about energy drinks is that they are not classified as a soda, even though they have soda-like qualities about them. The reason why this is important to note is because US laws require a 71mg limit be placed on every 12 ounces of soda that are consumed. In comparison, the average energy drink has 120mg of caffeine in every 12 ounces and many have even more than that. This is why there are warnings on the energy drink cans, but who reads a small warning in fine print to not drink more than 3 cans in a day? With certain energy drinks, like Wired 344, that 3 can limit would actually result in more than 1,000mg of caffeine! Since toxicity levels begin to present themselves at just 400mg, many people could be destroying their bodies from the inside out.
What Steps Can Be Taken To Improve Healthy Choices?
- French authorities banned the sale of Red Bull in 2004.
- The largest percentage increase over the past few years was found in people above the age of 40: a 279% total increase in energy drink consumption.
- 5% of adults consume energy drinks 5-7 times per month. Another 2% of adults will consume energy drinks more than 10 times per month.
- Consumers age 18-34 years, men, Hispanics, Pacific region residents, and adults with children in the household are demographics that over index in energy drink usage.
- Convenience store sales of energy drinks lead the market, making up 59% of the total sales of the beverage.
Having an energy drink here or there really isn’t a bad thing. Parents might need an energy drink to make it through a work day after two or three sleepless nights with an infant. A long day at work stays productive when an energy drink is around. The problem comes when the energy drinks become addictive and people need more and more caffeine in order to keep up their productivity levels. Then there’s the crash that happens once someone comes down and that requires more caffeine to stay active. It’s a vicious, unhealthy cycle that is strangely not regulated – even though sodas just like them are. Maybe it’s time to take a second look at the laws and how doctors evaluate personal lifestyle habits when they visit with patients.