Posted February 13, 2018

American College of Sports Medicine Warns of Energy Drink Dangers

A new statement released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) highlights the dangers of energy drinks when consumed by children and adolescents, and calls for more studies on the safety and efficacy energy drinks. The full statement is published in the February edition of Current Sports Medicine Reports.

"Energy drinks are extremely popular and concerns about their consumption are coming from every sector of society, which is why we've published these recommendations," author John Higgins, MD, FACSM. Stated in a news release about the guidelines. "Our review of the available science showed that excessive levels of caffeine found in energy drinks can have adverse effects on cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal and endocrine systems, as well as psychiatric symptoms. More needs to be done to protect children and adolescents, as well as adults with cardiovascular or other medical conditions." 

Some energy drinks contain significantly more caffeine than found in a cup of coffee, and often include additional ingredients such as taurine, L-carnitine, and high amounts of B vitamins, such as niacin and vitamin B6. More than half of young people who have ever consumed an energy drink have experienced at least one adverse reaction, according to a study in Canada published earlier this year. In the U.S. children under the age of six accounted for almost 45% of energy product exposures reported to poison control centers. In adults, consuming just one energy drink has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk and a case of hepatitis has been reported.

(See the Energy Drinks and Shots section of ConsumerLab.com B Vitamin Supplements Review for more information).

In it's new statement, the ACSM's recommends that energy drinks: 
  • should not be consumed before, during, or after strenuous exercise
  • should not be consumed by children or adolescents
  • should not be consumed by other vulnerable populations, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, caffeine naive or sensitive individuals or individuals with cardiovascular or medical conditions
  • should not be used for sports hydration
  • should not be mixed with alcohol
  • should bear a label such as "High Source of Caffeine" or "Do Not Mix with Alcohol"

Higgins also stated in the news release,"When used safely and with moderation, energy drinks may have some short-term, performance-enhancing effects. However, users are generally unaware of the many potential adverse reactions that could have long-term effects, some of which are quite serious. We highly encourage consumers, parents, physicians, athletic trainers, personal trainers and coaches to follow these recommendations." 

See related warnings:

Adverse Effects From Energy Drinks Common Among Youth and Young Adults

Consuming a Single Energy Drink May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Increase in Calls to Poison Control Centers About Supplements

Case of Hemorrhagic Stroke Linked to Redline Energy Drink

Energy Drink Linked to Case of Acute Hepatitis

Some Supplements May Cause or Exacerbate Heart Failure (Includes vitamin E and many herbs)

23,000 ER Visits Linked to Supplements: Palpitations, Swallowing Problems, Allergies Common

To read the ACSM's news release, use the link below.