The scene is an all too familiar one. Students, and even teachers, bustle in and out of Walgreens before and after school in search of their quick fix. The fix comes in all sorts of colors and sizes and are better known to people as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar energy drinks. People claim that by consuming these beverages, they get an instant boost in energy which helps them start their day, ready to take on the world. However, due to the drastic rise in the amount of people obsessed with the instant results brought about by these drinks, studies have been done to inform the public about their effects. As a result, the public has become aware that not only can these energy boosters bring about harmful side effects to the human body, in some cases overdose and death have occurred. Energy drinks are harmful to the body because of the chemicals, including caffeine, they contain and the reaction the human body has to them.
The invention of energy drinks began in Japan, and was brought to the United States in 1997. Dietrich Mateschitz was the man behind the popular energy booster we today call Red Bull. His background did not have anything to do with energy drinks or caffeine itself. Instead. Mateschitz sold bathroom toiletries and was only made aware of the beverage on a business trip to Bangkok. He quit his job and brought Red Bull to the United States at this time. As of 2012, energy drinks were said to be worth 11 billion dollars in sales (Engber). Today, as we all well know, these drinks are marketed to children, adults and athletes as well, many of whom are unaware of the potential negative effects and possible addictive properties these drinks can have on our bodies. The rise in popularity in energy drinks has forced America to look at the chemicals it contains, and the harmful side effects the come about after drinking them.
What’s In That Drink?
The chemicals and ingredients that make up these concoctions are harmful to the body. It has been found that one 16- ounce can of a typical energy drink has as much as 2500 mg of caffeine. This is about ten times the amount that is present in a 12- ounce can of coke. In addition, high amounts of fructose and corn syrup, which are sugars, also make up a large part of these drinks. Energy drinks also contain taurine, which is an amino acid which serves as a stimulant to the body. All of these ingredients, and especially caffeine at high doses, give the body a jolt and a higher state of alertness which can be felt immediately (Polta). These elevated moods are only temporary and are then followed by a drop off. This cycle is also dangerous since it encourages a dependence on these drinks for people to function. Additionally, if they are not harmful enough on their own, these stimulants when mixed with other substances such as alcohol and drugs, can bring about harmful side effects to the body.
As a result of the harmful chemicals in energy drinks, the body suffers adverse reactions. One of the most detrimental effects on the body is an increase in the body’s blood pressure. This causes the heart to pump faster, work harder and can lead to heart problems as a person gets older. It also can cause higher levels of anxiety, which can result in more frequent panic attacks, as well as dizziness and stomach problems. In some cases the results can be drastic. When energy drinks are mixed with alcoholic beverages or other mind altering substances, death can occur (Los Angeles Times). Sadly, many of the people ingesting these substances are adolescents who are most influenced by advertisements and peer pressure. Because of this, energy drinks are not recommended for children, pregnant women, or people more prone to heart disease (Cha). The chemicals present in these types of drinks have a harmful effect on how the body and mind function once they are consumed.