Energy drinks are not intended for minors. And yet, energy drink bans are not the way to go.
Many states and counties in the US have tried to pass laws to prevent minors from buying energy drinks. In this episode of the Caffeine at Midnight podcast, Caffeine Scientist GreenEyedGuide describes the 3 reasons energy drink bans fail, and what lawmakers SHOULD do instead.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Address Dangerous Ingredients
People have overdosed on caffeine from shots of espresso, from pure caffeine powder, and from soda [see References, below]. A ban on energy drinks won't address situations where OTHER ingredients pose a health risk. For example, yohimbe, beta-alanine, and even B-Vitamins can be harmful in the wrong dose.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Include "Energy Drinks In Disguise"
Starbucks Doubleshot has 2x the caffeine of Red Bull. Some preworkout powders have 3x the amount of caffeine a minor can have in 1 day. Energy drink bans fail to include these products, which pose just as much risk to minors as the stereotypical energy drink.
Energy Drink Bans Don't Protect 18 Year Olds
Eighteen year olds don't magically wake up immune to caffeine toxicity. And yet, college students are more likely than minors of overdosing on caffeine. This is due to their newfound independence, peer pressure, and the stress of juggling college and Adulthood responsibilities.
Preventing a minor from buying Red Bull is not the best way to keep minors safe from the health risks associated with energy drinks. There are too many loopholes, and there are better methods that protect everyone, not just minors.
In the next episode of the Caffeine at Midnight podcast, GreenEyedGuide shares why Canada’s Energy Drink Restriction is the way to go.
Turns out not a lot of college students in Quebec drink energy drinks, but watch out for how the news will spin concern about those who do.
Here’s the journal article (via capture because there’s no link to read the full thing):
This study involves over TEN THOUSAND college students across THIRTY-SIX different public colleges in Quebec.
Out of the 10,283 people who participated in the survey, only ~9.1% reported consuming an energy drink at least once a week in the previous month.
This means 9,348 out of 10,283 college students surveyed do not have an energy drink every week (like, zero energy drinks at all? For the whole week? In college?)
SPIN – ALERT
Because this is college, the study also looked at alcohol consumption and use of cannabis, glues/solvents, and amphetamines.
FACT – Mixing energy drinks and alcohol is a baaaaaaaaadddd idea. This study properly suggests that combination of alcohol and energy drinks poses a risk for serious adverse effects.
FALSE – Any statements like “college students who use energy drinks are more likely to abuse psychoactive substances…more likely to demonstrate excessive use of alcohol”
Approximately 1-in-4 people (247 out of 935, ~26%) who said they drink at least one energy drink said they also use psychoactive substances. This finding is not proof that energy drinks were a gateway to psychoactive substances for these people. How many people use psychoactive substances but not energy drinks?
There were even fewer people who reported consuming alcohol-energy drink combos (109 out of 935 people. 1.1%).
That means I have at least 109 more people to convince that this combo is a waste of booze (because you won’t feel it/can’t enjoy it) and a dangerous idea (because you won’t feel drunk, but you ARE in fact impaired).
The journal article conclusion reads
“A majority of respondents are not heavy users of ED (energy drinks), AED (alcohol+energy drinks), or ED with drugs.”
Can we just stop there and celebrate that for a minute before we give fodder to the “Energy Drinks are Poison” camp?
“Yet, the profiles of ED consumption potentially harmful to health that characterize some participants indicate that the potential health consequences of such behaviour are of concern.”
I am worried this last line will get translated as, “someparticipants who consume energy drinks exhibit behavior that is potentially harmful to health, so we should probably be worried about allenergy drink consumers.”