Most energy drinks are targeted to kids, young adults, or parents. What is surprising about the energy drink demographics, however, is that every age, ethnic group, and even religious perspective is engaging in these highly caffeinated drinks.
A 16 fluid ounce energy drink typically contains between 160 and 240 milligrams of caffeine, while the same size coffeehouse coffee contains around 300 to 330 milligrams.
Energy Drink Demographics
The issue isn’t necessarily the amount of caffeine that is being consumed, but the combination of other ingredients. Coffeehouse coffee doesn’t contain the same levels of B vitamins and other energy products that can be found in an energy drink. When vitamins are consumed in amounts that are too high, they can be just as dangerous as a drug overdose.
- 44%. That’s the percentage of active duty US military members who consume at least one energy drink per day.
- 13.9% of active duty military members consume 3 or more energy drinks every day.
- The percentage of adults who drink more than 10 energy drinks in a single month outside of the military: 2%.
- Just 5% of adults will consume 5-7 energy drinks over the course of the next 30 days.
- In the United States, more than 200 million gallons of energy drinks are consumed annually.
- On any given day in the world, 1 in 2 people are going to consume at least one sugary beverage during the day.
- 1 in 4 Americans consume at least 200 calories from drinks like energy drinks. 5% of Americans get 25% of the caloric intake from the consumption of energy drinks.
- 34% of 18 to 24-y-olds self-identify as being regular energy drink users.
- 50% of college students consume at least 1 energy drink per month in the hope to increase their energy level.
Energy drinks are generally seen as a young person’s drink and generally this is true. What isn’t necessarily documented is the fact that serving in the military increases the chances of someone in the target demographic being a heavy energy drink consumer by more than 6x that of the general population. With over 10% of active military personnel consuming 3 or more energy drinks every day, potentially consuming nearly 1g of caffeine daily depending on their energy drink of choice [Wired 344 offers 344mg of caffeine per can], the health needs of those serving should likely be addressed. Is it a cultural phenomenon that is causing them to consume high levels of these beverages? Or is it because of extended tours of duty and other service requirements?
It’s Not Just For The Younger Demographics
- The percentage increase in energy drink consumption in the over 40 age demographic in the past decade: 279%.
- Convenience is what drives energy drink sales. 59% of all sales occur at convenience stores around the world.
- Besides parents, older adults who have a Hispanic or Pacific Islander background consumer more energy drinks when compared to other demographics.
- Energy shots, have become increasingly popular among a wider range of age groups, including older adults.
Why are the older population demographics consuming more energy drinks than ever before? Part of it has to do with having children. Older adults are more likely to have children of their own and they feel like they need the caffeine in order to keep up with their charges. This may also translate into child-related careers, such as teaching. The most common reason to consume an energy drink is to make up for a lack of sleep, so older adults and those in certain ethnic demographics use them to compensate for lifestyle demands. Although the demographics of energy drink consumption may seem to be slowly changing, the fact remains that energy drinks aren’t a new player in the caffeinated world.
Energy Drinks Have Been Around for a Long Time
- Energy drink products first appeared in Europe and Asia in the 1970s. They didn’t appear in the United States until the 1990s.
- teens and young adults in the 14-21 age demographic consume, on average, approximately one-third the amount of caffeine as people over 21.
- Groups that are at risk, such as women of reproductive age and children, should limit their daily consumption of caffeine to a maximum of 300 mg.
- 1g of guarana is nearly equal to 40 mg caffeine, a common ingredient in energy drinks that is not always included in total caffeine content.
- Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts of 400 mg or more include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms.
- One 16 ounce energy drink contains the same levels of sugar as two regular soft drinks.
- Energy drinks also contain numerous unusual ingredients, such as glucuronlactone and inositol which may or may not contribute to the drink’s side effects.
For the most part, limited caffeine consumption is safe. Most energy drinks have, in fact, less caffeine than the average cup of coffee of the same size. What is not always taken into account, however, is the fact that coffee doesn’t always contain the same sugar content, vitamins, and other ingredients that an energy drink contains. With the exception of guarana, inositol, and yohimbine to a limited extent, insufficient data exists to determine if they are safe for human consumption. Since adults 18-34 are the primary demographic who is consuming these drinks, the results of their consumption and any long-term effects have yet to really be studied. That isn’t stopping every demographic, however, from using energy drinks as a method to increase their overall performance in some way.
Should Energy Drinks Be Consumed Before Exercise?
- The International Olympic Committee bans caffeine consumption because it is known to increase a person’s endurance.
- Research has found consumption of caffeine prior to heavy exercise to be safe.
- In adolescents, caffeine consumption has been associated with an increase in blood pressure, especially before exercise.
- 42.3%. That’s the average percentage of youth aged 11-18 who say that they regularly consume an energy drink.
Energy drinks are popular before exercise not just because of the caffeine content, but also because they often contain carnitine. This supplement is regularly taken because it increases the amount of muscle energy that can be consumed during a workout. By combining the two ingredients, people are typically able to work out harder and longer. The danger in doing so, however, is that caffeine can also rob the body of water. Most high caffeine supplements recommend that people drink 32 ounces of water when 300 mg of caffeine are consumed. Without that extra water, dehydration, cramping, and other physical issues may begin to arise from the consumption of energy drinks.
How Popular Have Energy Drinks Become?
- Even though energy drinks have experience a considerable growth in popularity, they still account for just 1% of the non-alcoholic beverage market.
- 92 % of total caffeine for adults and 87 % of caffeine for adolescents come from other caffeine sources than energy drinks.
- Energy drinks in have experienced an impressive growth of more than 240% in the United States.
- Kids in the 12-18 age demographic were actually drinking fewer caffeinated products in 2010 than they were in 2008.
- There are more than 300 varieties of energy drinks representing more than 200 brands in the United States.
- 2013 energy drink sales are up 6.7% over 2012 numbers in the United States.
- The percentage of people who say that Red Bull is their favorite energy drink: 43%.
- $3.43 billion. That’s the amount of sales that Red Bull energy drinks had in just the United States in 2013. Their global sales in 2013 were $10.9 billion.
- Just 2 other energy drink brands have reached the billion dollar mark in global sales: Monster [$3.8 billion globally] and Rockstar [$1.1 billion globally]. 5 Hour Energy would also be included [$1.1 billion in US sales in 2013] if shots and energy drinks are combined.
- Global energy drinks sales have grown by more than 50% since 2005 and represent the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry.
- Approximately 90% of adults report regular caffeine use, with an average daily intake of 227 mg.
Although the figures seem like a lot, the beverage market for non-alcoholic beverage is a trillion dollar market from a global perspective. When those kinds of figures are being used, a $10 billion sales figure for Red Bull seems like a drop in the bucket. Why is Red Bull such a popular energy drink compared to every other brand? The evidence is in the marketing. Xyience energy drinks spent more on marketing in 2013 than ever before and it helped them crack the Top 15 in sales for 2013 for the first time. Red Bull branding is everywhere. They sponsor sports events. They own sports teams, like the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Because of the branding, people recognize the name when they want an energy drink and so that’s what customers purchase.
Are Kids At Risk When They Consume an Energy Drink?
- Researchers found that 40% of the 5,156 calls to poison centers for energy drink exposure involved children under age 6.
- 73%. That’s the percentage of children in the United States who do not consume caffeine at all.
- Children and adolescents are the fastest growing population of caffeine users with an increase of 70% in the past 30 years.
- Caffeine consumers ages 12–17 years have a mean intake of 69.5 mg per day. This is double the amount of caffeine consumed in this age demographic from 1982 data.
- When caffeine intake is examined relative to body weight, children ages 2–11 consume 0.4 mg/kg and those ages 12–17 consume 0.55 mg/kg compared to the average adult caffeine intake of approximately 1.3 mg/kg.
Kids and caffeine don’t generally mix. Ask any parent who has accidentally given their child a caffeinated beverage when they don’t normally consume one and you’ll get instant agreement from most of them. Many kids when exposed to caffeine will ping off of the walls with crazy high levels of energy. The life of caffeine in the child’s body can also be as long as 12 hours, which means a noon soda can very well keep that child up to midnight – a parent’s worst nightmare. The occasional caffeinated beverage for younger children isn’t generally going to hurt them and the demographics show parents are keeping young kids away from energy drinks… but the poison control information also shows that this is a trend that is changing.
Are Energy Drinks Dangerous?
- According to adverse event reports collected by the FDA since 2004, a total of 34 deaths have now been linked to energy drinks.
- 22 out of the 34 deaths have been linked to 5 Hour Energy.
- 11. That’s the number of fatalities that have been linked to Monster energy drinks.
- The number of annual hospital visits involving the drinks doubled from 2007 to 2011, resulting 20,783 reported visits.
- 42%. That’s the percentage of people who go to the ER because of energy drink related problems and have mixed the drinks with other substances, such as alcohol, Adderall, or Ritalin.
- Some of the ingredients in an energy drink can interact with prescription medications – especially medications taken for depression.
Anything that is consumed in unhealthy amounts is going to be dangerous. Poor eating habits can lead to obesity, for example, or drinking too many non-caffeinated soft drinks can lead to insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. The point being made here through the demographics is that the simple consumption of an energy drink isn’t generally going to provide much harm unless someone is naturally sensitive to caffeine in the first place.