Energy Drinks Controversy

Energy Drink Controversy


Last year The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) and other medical bodies sounded the alarm with respect to caffeinated energy drinks being marketed to children. The CMAJ went so far as to refer to energy drinks as drugs, stating that “Caffeine-loaded energy drinks have now crossed the line from beverages to drugs delivered as tasty syrups,”

Refreshments Canada, a national industry association representing brands and companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in Canada responded to the CMAJ editorial by stating :“In Canada, energy drinks are not sold as foods but as Natural Health Products. They are formulated, labelled and marketed in accordance with Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Regulation. These energy drinks are intended for adults and clearly indicate on the label that this category of beverage is not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people who are sensitive to caffeine. “

The United Sates Senate Commerce Committee has heard testimony that that emergency visits involving energy drinks have doubled from 2007 to 2011. Prominent physicians also testified that “Energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents (but) current energy-drink marketing targets youth with considerable effectiveness.”

Back in Canada, The CMAJ editorial argues that :

  • energy drinks typically contain 80 to 140 mg of caffeine per 140 ml
  • energy drinks may contain 10 times the amount of caffeine found in Coca-Cola
  • caffeine tablets with five time less caffeine have mandatory warnings for children
  • there is no information about safe levels of caffeine on the labels of these drinks
  • they market to youth, e.g. companies often sponsor snowboarding and other youth sports
  • students often mix drinks with alcohol; creating a “potentially hazardous combination”
  • studies in the U.S. show students have energy drinks in evening, affecting sleep