“Consumption of energy drinks is a rising public health problem because medical and behavioral problems can result from excessive caffeine intake,” the report said. “A growing body of scientific evidence documents harmful health effects of energy drinks, particularly for children, adolescents and young adults.”
In 2011, the consumption of an energy drink was either the primary cause of or contributing factor in 20,783 emergency room visits across the country. This compares with 10,068 in 2007. The health problems requiring medical attention from excessive caffeine consumption included heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, anxiety and headaches.
The Food and Drug Administration states that adults should consume no more than 400 g per day of caffeine, as any more than that can increase blood pressure and cause anxiety. Monster Energy, available in large, 16 ounce cans, contains 160 mg of caffeine, whereas Coca-Cola Classic has about 34 mg in 12 fluid ounces, by comparison.
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In fact, the SAMHSA report reveals an alarming trend: people from 18 to 25 accounted for the largest group of patients by age, with male patients making up roughly two-thirds of those treated.
The statistics come from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, a government system to which hospitals report drug-related emergency room visits. Additionally, the report found that the number of older people experiencing medical complications from using energy drinks was increasing, possibly due to interactions with medications.
“Health professionals can discourage use of energy drinks by explaining that perceived health benefits are largely due to marketing techniques rather than scientific evidence,” the report said.