Energy drinks do not belong in the diet of a five-year-old. You already knew that. But do you know what happens when children do have energy drinks? Thanks to research by Durham University in the UK, we now have a good idea how many kids and teens in different countries drink energy drinks and how those drinks affect their health.
*Note – the research paper by Durham University uses the expression “children and young people” to refer to those under 18. At the age of 33, I still consider myself a “young person”, so I’m going to use the expression “kids and teens” instead.Read more →
A study presented at the November 2018 American Heart Association conference claimed, “Just one energy drink may hurt blood vessel function.” It’s been a few months since the last “energy drinks are killing people” freak out, so I suppose we were due. Instead of pointing out all the limitations in the study (because this Healthline article beat me to it and did a great job) I’m going to skip the science for today and just talk about the 10 energy drinks that will not hurt your blood vessels.
In August 2013 a book I’d been working on for 10 years was finally published! Now, August 2017, it’s available as an audiobook! My only regret is it took me so long to save enough to make this happen – I’m guessing if you’re busy enough to need caffeine, you’re busy enough to prefer an audiobook over the real thing.
Since I first started studying biochemistry and energy drinks in 2003, my biggest goal has been to help people consume caffeine safely.
Here’s how you can listen for free and help me promote “my baby”:
Energy Drink Guide [Amazon]
back cover of Are You a Monster or a Rock Star
STEP ZERO: Make sure you’re not signed in to Amazon or Audible. If you already have an Audible account, skip to the bottom for Step Three.
STEP ONE: Visit this link and get a 30-day trial of Audible along with my book:
That’s it! That’s all! In just a few steps you’ve helped me and put the ultimate guide to the science of energy drinks in your hands (or, ears, I suppose).
Thank you for helping me share this book. Special thanks to Agent Smith of the Double Cross Committee for bringing my baby to life and for literally giving a voice to all my cheesy puns throughout the book.
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.”
In this article I wrote for ScienceMeetsFood.org, I address the problem behind the term “energy drink” and the science behind energy drinks in disguise. (There’s also a Guardians of the Galaxy metaphor!) It’s a great primer if you’ve never heard the term “energy drink in disguise”, or if you never realized that V8 and Ocean Spray make energy drinks. Read this article in its entirety at ScienceMeetsFood.org
“I’ve been studying energy drinks since 2003 and they continue to both fascinate and horrify me. They fascinate me because I’m a biochemistry major, or maybe it’s the other way around. Energy drinks are the reason I pursued my masters in food science (and the reason I survived grad school). Metabolic biochemistry is the closest I’ll ever come to engineering – for me, studying biochemistry is studying the secret rules to how things work.
Energy drinks horrify me because it feels like people with no science background are behind some of the products you can buy online. Sometimes I’ll read a label and think, “What are they doing? Who thought this was a good idea?” The most concerning aspect of energy drinks is we don’t have a proper nomenclature to classify them properly. (#WhatWouldIUPACDo?) Using the term “energy drink” the way we do is like calling pure ethanol “booze”. Let’s talk about why the lack of classification is a problem.