A friend of mine recently brought this story (Anais’s tragedy: calls for restrictions on energy drinks after teenager’s death), from the Sydney Morning Herald, to my attention (thanks Rose), which I felt prompted to share with as many people as possible.

The cause of 14 year old Anais’s death was heart arrhythmia and while she had been previously diagnosed with a heart disorder, this was aggravated from caffeine toxicity. And the source of her caffeine toxicity has been linked to a Monster energy drink.

“Anais Fournier was hanging out with friends at a shopping centre one Friday, sipping on a large Monster energy drink. She followed it with another the next day.” 
Note, Anais did not binge on these drinks. A week later, she was dead. The family are now suing the producer of Monster Energy. And this is not an isolated incident, as the Herald article points out:
“… the US Food and Drug Administration revealed it had received five death reports in the past year that said the victims had consumed Monster drinks, which are billed as a “killer energy brew” on the company’s website…”

“Killer energy brew” indeed. And in the U.S., the number of emergency room incidents that involve energy drinks has risen from 1128 to 13,114 between 2005 and 2009.

In the United States, producers of energy drinks are apparently not required to disclose caffeine quantities in their beverages, as they are categorized as wait for it…Dietary supplements. So in some of these energy drinks, the caffeine content can be seven times the amount found in soft drinks like Coca-Cola. Predictably there are calls to regulate these energy drinks and have better labelling.

What about in Australia? While the Australian beverage industry has been quick to point out that energy drinks are strictly regulated with proper labelling and limits on the amount of caffeine, not all are convinced of their complete safety.

There have been calls from the Australian Medical Association for better regulations on these drinks. A study co-authored by cardiologist, Prof Chris Semsarian of the University of Sydney, has found that caffeine added from substances such as Guarana meant the quantity of caffeine in these energy drinks can be as high as 500 mg. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly 5 times the amount of caffeine found in a standard cup of coffee. Another study from the Australian Medical Journal found that between 2004 and 2010 there were as many as 297 calls to the Poisons hotline, relating to energy drinks.

To make matters worse, we also have the case where these energy drinks are being mixed with alcohol. Stimulants plus Depressants? Not a good combination.

My personal feeling is that we don’t really need these drinks. The best thing to drink after a night on the town is wait for it….Water!!!!!

I have included some follow up reading on this issue. My advice to you if you have kids who consume these types of drinks (or perhaps you use them yourself) is GET EDUCATED. Read up on it ASAP. Don’t put your faith in the makers of these beverages. Find out what exactly is in their drinks and beverages and how this might affect their health.

Till next time
Further Reading:
Beware of energy drinks, Prof. Chris Semsarian, Australian Genetic Heart Disease Registry