According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the labels of popular energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Rockstar, should contain warnings about the amount of caffeine they contain and the potentially harmful side effects they could cause.
In recent years, a number of different energy drinks have been introduced to provide an energy boost or as dietary supplements. They contain high levels of caffeine as well as other additives,such as taurine, ginseng and carnitine that act as stimulants.
Some of the more popular brands are Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, No Fear, Tab Energy, Wired and Fixx. They are heavily marketed, especially to young adults, with slogans such as “Red Bull gives you wings” and others that compare the effects of the drinks to the use of drugs like cocaine.
The FDA does not currently require energy drinks to display warnings or limit the amount of caffeine they can contain. However, a report published in the September 24, 2008 edition of the journal Drugs and Alcohol Dependence calls for warnings to be added about the potential health risks energy drinks could pose.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins have spent years evaluating the effects of caffeine and the impact these high-caffeine energy drinks can have on a person’s health. While a typical 12 ounce soft drink has about 35 milligarms of caffeine, some energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams. The researchers suggest that most consumers are unaware of the caffeine content in these energy drinks or about the potential dangers, and that information should be added to the product labels.
In addition, many of these drinks are heavily marketed in bars or for use in combination with alcohol, which could further increase the health risks for consumers.
Last month, an energy drink lawsuit was filed by the Washington-based consumer advocacy group, Center for Science, against MillerCoors involving their alcoholic energy drink Sparks. The lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court alleges that Sparks contains unapproved additives and poses a health risk to consumers.
Similar alcoholic energy drinks sold by Anheuser-Busch as Bud Tilt and Bud Extra were removed from the market in June 2008 after a similar lawsuit was filed by state attorney generals and advocacy groups.
In August 2008, a study conducted by the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia found that energy drinks could increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. According to the research, even consuming one can of the caffeinated energy drink Red Bull could cause the blood to become sticky, increasing the risk of clotting.