Energy drinks are among the most quickly growing segment of the beverage industry today, and are increasingly marketed towards young people. These drinks often have several times the caffeine as more traditional stimulant beverages such as coffee or cola, and are sometimes mixed by consumers with alcohol or other drugs. Because these drinks are relatively new to the market, the effects of their long term use is unclear, and there is mounting evidence to suggest that they may be dangerous to young consumers. According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of emergency department visits related to the consumption of energy drinks doubled in the period from 2007 to 2011. The majority of these visits involved people from 18 to 25 years of age.
In February 2011, Pediatrics journal published a study which reported a link between energy drinks and a number of serious adverse events in children. Researchers found that such risks were much higher in children who took medication or suffered from chronic illnesses and they warned that energy drinks may adversely affect children with heart conditions, or mood disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Overall, there has been a sharp spike in the number of people who needed emergency medical care after consuming energy drinks.
Because of the popularity of energy drinks, the Federal Drug Administration is keeping a close watch on the number of cases reported as well as any resulting legal action. There have been several illnesses, deaths, and lasting disabilities linked to different energy drinks. Perhaps most notably, 14-year-old Anais Fournier suffered a fatal cardiac arrest late last year after consuming two energy drinks, and her family has filed a lawsuit against energy drink maker Monster Energy Corp. While reports indicate that Fournier had a pre-existing heart condition, court records indicate that she died of caffeine toxicity.
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Information on the health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults