(by Melanie Alnwick, MyFoxDC.com) WASHINGTON – Energy drinks have become a $9 billion a year industry in the United States, but not everyone [approves of] their caffeinated kick, [including] Jon Almquist, Athletic Training Program Adminstrator for Fairfax County Public Schools.

“From a school system standpoint, we really need to protect the kids,” he said.

Almquist is talking about the schools’ decision a few years ago to ban energy drinks from all athletics activities. He said there had been incidents of overuse, leading to medical emergencies.

“The combination of the two, many times, was just not a good mix,” said Almquist.

Fairfax County Public Schools took the lead. Then the Virginia High School League banned energy drinks in all [Virginia] high school sports activities.

Now, a paper just published by the American Academy of Pediatrics backs up much of their concerns, and what doctors have said for a few years now.

Dr. Anisha Abraham, a pediatrician with Georgetown University, explained the issue for kids this way.

“For very young people that might have lower body weights, a very small amount is all it takes for them to affect them in many different ways,” Abraham said.

Researchers from the University of Miami Department of Pediatrics looked at 121 published articles – some from medical journals, some from Google.

They found that around a third of 12 to 18 year olds said they regularly consumed energy drinks, and that high doses have led to medical treatment for liver damage, kidney failure, breathing and heart problems, and seizures.

The American Beverage Association released as statement saying “the literature review does nothing than perpetuate misinformation about energy drinks.”

Its spokesperson, registered dietician Lisa Kaitc, concurred.

“It’s very misleading and it has a lot of misinformation contained in it,” she said.

Katic and the Association say most energy drinks have less caffeine than a cup of coffee, and that most kids aren’t guzzlers.

Major brands like Amp, Rockstar, Monster, Full Throttle and Red Bull contain about 160 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz. can. That’s about two cups. The same amount of brewed coffee has about 200 mg.

The American Beverage Association prefers that parents and young people pay attention to labels.

“It’s really important to educate yourself, inform yourself, and choose accordingly,” said Katic.

Still, the paper raises questions about other herbal ingredients, such as guarana and taurine, which also have stimulative effects. The amounts of caffeine in those ingredients are not on most labels.

The paper’s authors are recommending more study and if the safety of energy drink consumption for young adults can’t be proven, they suggest that regulation of the product, just like tobacco or alcohol “is prudent.”

NOTE:  This article was first published at myfoxdc.com on February 14, 2011.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from MyFoxDC. Visit the website at MyFoxDC.com.


1. How much money does the energy drink industry make per year?

2. Why did the Fairfax Country, Virginia school district ban energy drinks from all athletic activities?

3. Researchers from the university of Miami Department of Pediatrics conducted a study on the effect of energy drinks on kids, which was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in February 2011. According to the researchers:
a) How many 12-18 year olds said they regularly consumed energy drinks?
b) What types of medical problems resulted from consuming excessive amounts of the drinks?

4. a) How did the American Beverage Association respond to the energy drink study?
b) What might be the ABA’s motive for their response?

5. How much caffeine is in an average energy drink can?

6. Do you enjoy energy drinks? Explain your answer.
Would this information cause you to rethink your energy drink consumption? Explain your answer.


Read the results of the American Academy of Pediatrics study on energy drinks at pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-3592v1

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