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Do energy drinks need a warning?

September 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you like energy drinks, you might be surprised to learn how much caffeine you consume. In some countries, these drinks are banned. But here in L.A., it's a part of many people's daily routine.Dana Schick starts her day drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks.

"I drink probably like two or three. If I am going for a rush I will drink one of those Full Throttles. I like the ones that kind of target towards women -- no sodium, no calories or sugar," said Schick.

But what about the caffeine? Johns Hopkins researchers say there ought to be a prominent warning label disclosing caffeine content and what caffeine can do to your health.

"If these caffeinated energy drinks are two or three times coffee that is a lot of caffeine," said Dr. John de Bexeidon.

An 8 oz. can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine. A 16 oz. Monster or Rockstar each as 160 milligrams. A can of Vamp 240 and a 20 oz. container of Fixx list 500 milligrams. That's equivalent to 14 cans of coke.

"That is fine with me because I need the energy," said Schick.

But do you need the nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach and tremors associated with too much caffeine?

"In large amounts caffeine does things this like causes really severe reflux. It also can cause palpitations, the pounding of the heart. Caffeine is much like adrenaline," said internist Dr. John de Bexeidon. "Once people start consuming large amounts of caffeine it takes a lot of will and a lot of talent to get off the caffeine."

Dr. John de Bexeidon opposes warning labels and supports common sense. But energy drinker Dana Schick thinks a label might make some think twice.

"Absolutely I think there should be a warning for that kind of stuff. Some people do not need the extra caffeine. Some people are concerned about that," said Schick.

Dr. John de Bexeidon says caffeine is an addictive substance much like alcohol and nicotine except it's classified as a food supplement. He says parents should try to keep teenagers away from energy drinks because the caffeine weakens bones and keeps kids away from drinking milk.

 

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