You may think nothing of picking up an energy drink for a quick, tasty afternoon pick-me-up, in fact, global sales of energy drinks reached over $12 billion in 2012, proving how popular they are with consumers. However, you may not have considered the health risks that come with regular consumption of highly caffeinated beverages.
The Daily Mail reported the death of teenager Joshua Merrick in 2014, after the 19 year old began using caffeinated drinks to boost his energy during workouts. Sadly, this is not a rare case. A 2011 US study examined a number of cases involving energy drinks as the cause of seizures, mania, strokes or death.
There have since been calls to place and age limit on energy drinks. In the UK and Sweden, there is no legislation in place, however several supermarket chains have begun refusing sales of the beverages, such as Red Bull and Monster Energy, to children under 16.
In the USA, similar progress is being made, as Los Angeles may be set to become the first city in the country to place an age restriction on the drinks.
What defines an ‘energy drink’?
Part of the issue is that people are regularly drinking energy drinks as they enjoy the taste, without putting much thought into the content.
They contain high quantities of caffeine, taurine and vitamins, designed to work together to create an energy ‘buzz’.
The drinks originated in Japan in the 1960s and became popular in Europe and the US during the 1980s and 90s, likely due to the development of the rave and clubbing cultures.
Today, they are commonplace, often sold as a mix or chaser with alcoholic beverages in clubs or bars.
The drinks are marketed as stimulants, claiming to improve focus, performance and overall energy. It has been predicted that over 80% of adults in the USA consume caffeine each day, proving how these products could be seen as appealing as an alternative to coffee or caffeine pills.