HEALTH EDUCATION: Energy Drink, Healthy or Dangerous to Health?

HEALTH EDUCATION: Energy Drink, Healthy or Dangerous to Health?

There are other ways for people to feel more energized. “If you are looking to have a lot of energy, get some sleep and eat a whole-food, plant-based diet,” he said. 

Myth: Energy drinks are driving an increase in emergency room visits.

Fact: Although a recent government report showed that of the more than 136.1 million visits made to emergency room facilities, 20,783 involved energy drinks – either as the alleged reason or a contributing factor for the visit – in fact, as the FDA itself acknowledged, no conclusion about causation can be drawn from these reports. This statistic is of concern as our industry is committed, first and foremost, to the safety and integrity of its beverages. Unfortunately, it is difficult to draw hard conclusions about the role of energy drinks in these hospital visits because the report did not provide information on the general health of the people involved or other circumstances which may have contributed to their hospital visit. Nonetheless, our industry takes this information seriously and will continue to safeguard consumers through voluntary steps such as listing caffeine content on our product labels and displaying an advisory statement reminding consumers that energy drinks are not intended for children or recommended for pregnant or nursing women or other people sensitive to caffeine.


Top Ten Dangers of Drinking too Many Energy Drinks at One Time

  1. Cardiac Arrest: While our Death by Caffeine Calculator can show people how many energy drinks at one time would be lethal, this formula doesn’t apply to everyone. Those with underlying heart conditions have gone into cardiac arrest after just a few energy drinks. Before drinking energy drinks or caffeine, be sure to know your heart’s health.

    A new study

        showed that energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions, which could be harmful to some with certain heart conditions.

    – A French study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 257 adverse events related to energy drinks. Most of these were of cardio-vascular origin with 8 cases leading to death. src

  2. Headaches and Migraines: Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Changing the amount of caffeine you ingest daily can cause more frequent headaches.
  3. Insomnia: Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep all together. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration heavy tasks.
  4. Type 2 Diabetes: Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
  5. Drug Interaction: Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications especially medications taken for depression.
  6. Addiction: People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink or a financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks daily.
  7. Risky behavior: There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health which showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.
  8. Jitters and Nervousness: Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing needed tasks or cause emotional issues. A study out of Perth, Australia found that even just one 250ml energy drink can increase anxiety in young men.
  9. Vomiting: Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and esophagus if frequent.
  10. Allergic Reactions: Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.
From: Current Opinions in Pediatrics (Apr 2012)

from: Curent Opinions in Pediatrics (Apr 2012)


World Health Organization’s Warning

The World Health Organization (WHO) just released a warning letter concerning the dangers energy drinks pose to young people, especially since they found 68% of adolescents consume them.

To reduce energy drink dangers, the recommend the following to government agencies:

  • Establish an upper caffeine limit on all products.
  • Enforce labeling requirements and sales restrictions to minors.
  • Enforce regulation of the industry to responsibly market their products.
  • Train health care workers to recognize and treat overdose from energy drinks.
  • Screen patients with a history of substance abuse for heavy consumption of energy drinks.
  • Educate the public about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.
  • Continue researching the negative side effects energy drinks have on young people.

Moderation is Key

Too much of anything can potentially be dangerous, so moderation is recommended when consuming energy drinks as well. Caffeine (trimethylxanthine) and other ingredients in these beverages are drugs and should be respected.

To reduce the potential energy drink dangers education is key. Consumers need to be aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe.


US National Library of Medicine



In the past 10 years there has been a significant increase in the consumption of energy drinks, particularly by young people. There has also been considerable debate about the contents of energy drinks and whether consumption of them is safe.

This fact sheet provides information on caffeinated energy drinks and their effects, including when they are mixed with alcohol.

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are beverages that contain varying amounts of caffeine, taurine, guarana, amino acids, vitamins and sugar. Energy drinks are promoted as being beneficial in increasing stamina, and improving physical performance, endurance and concentration.

What are the ingredients of energy drinks?

Energy drinks typically contain a mixture of:

  • caffeine—a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system to speed up the messages to and from the brain. Caffeine is the main active ingredient in energy drinks
  • guarana—an extract from a plant that contains about twice the amount of caffeine as coffee beans
  • theobromine—from the cacao plant. It has a similar effect to caffeine and is found in chocolate and many other foods
  • theophylline—a drug used for the treatment of respiratory diseases and asthma, marketed under a variety of brand names. It is structurally similar to caffeine. It is also naturally found in tea at very small levels
  • taurine—occurs naturally in food, especially in seafood and meat, and is necessary for normal skeletal muscle functioning
  • ginseng—a substance that comes from a variety of plants and is believed to have medicinal properties, but has been found to interact with a number of prescription and herbal drugs.

Source: Gunja N & Brown J 2012 “Energy drinks: health risks and toxicity”, Medical Journal of Australia, 196:1, 46–49

Caffeine content of some popular energy drinks and soft drinks

Drink/product Size/amount Caffeine content
Mother energy drink 500 ml can 160 mg
Red Bull 250 ml can 80 mg
V energy drink 250 ml can 50 mg
Pulse: Vodka, soda & guarana (alcoholic) 300 ml can 21 mg
Cola soft drink 375 ml can 40–50 mg
Diet cola soft drink 375ml can 48 m

Effects of energy drinks

Short-term effects

  • feeling more alert and active
  • need to urinate more frequently
  • rise in body temperature
  • increased heart rate
  • stimulation of the brain and nervous system.

Higher doses

Serious injury or death from caffeine overdose can occur. The Australian Medical Journal has reported an increase in energy drink related reports to the Poisons Information Service in NSW, and they assume that this increase would be reflected in national statistics.

Some of the adverse health effects associated with excessive energy drink consumption are:

  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rapid heart rate
  • heart-palpitations.

In small children, caffeine poisoning can occur through much smaller doses—up to 1 gram of caffeine (equal to around 12 energy drinks).


Who should avoid energy drinks?

Children and young people

There is no reported evidence that energy drinks are of any nutritional value. Research has found that children and young people who consume energy drinks may suffer sleep problems, bed-wetting and anxiety.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to avoid energy drinks, as high amounts of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage, difficult birth and delivery of low-weight babies. Caffeine crosses the placenta, so breastfeeding mothers are also advised to avoid energy drinks.

Sportsmen and women

People who play sport are advised to avoid caffeinated energy drinks as caffeine can cause dehydration. The combination of dehydration and exercise can be dangerous.

Caffeine sensitive people

Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you are susceptible to the effects of caffeine, just small amounts—even one energy drink—may prompt unwanted effects, such as restlessness and sleep problems.

Combining energy drinks with alcohol

Health professionals have expressed concern about the consumption of energy drinks containing alcohol and the combining of energy drinks with ‘shots’ of alcohol. Drinking energy drinks with alcohol places the body under great stress and can mask some of the effects of the alcohol. For example, if a person combines energy drinks with alcohol they will still be affected by the alcohol but may not feel as relaxed or sleepy. They may feel more confident, take more risks and increase the chances of experiencing alcohol-related harm such as drinking too much or being injured in a fight or accident. It is therefore recommended that the consumption of alcoholic energy drinks be avoided.

Preventing and reducing harm

It has been suggested that the actual caffeine content of energy drinks is under-reported, meaning a person may be drinking more caffeine than the label on the drink states. Energy drinks should be avoided by anyone who feels negative effects after consuming them.

The consumption of energy drinks by young people, pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as people with ‘caffeine sensitivity’ should be avoided.

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol should be avoided due to the masking effects of the caffeine, meaning the person doesn’t feel as drunk as they actually are and so there is more risk of alcohol-related harm.



What are your thoughts?