Energy Drink Facts -- More Than Meets The Eye

Misleading Marketing Is Part of the Problem

You can put lipstick on a pig, name her "Lady Gaga", but please don't take her home to your parents! Likewise, simply placing the word Cocaine on this can doesn't make it so.
You can put lipstick on a pig, name her "Lady Gaga", but please don't take her home to your parents! Likewise, simply placing the word Cocaine on this can doesn't make it so.

The Facts Are More Complex Than Most People Think

The energy drink facts are confusing because of several unrelated issues:

1. The public assumes that all energy drinks are the same and therefore, unhealthy.

2. Most adults consume caffeine, sugar, and vitamins -- But assume that, when combined in a carbonated beverage, these same ingredients become "dangerous".

3. Youths have a tendency to go to extremes. This was true before energy drinks arrived.

4. Marketers of energy drinks use suggestive advertising to imply that by consuming a lot of what they are selling, teens can live a more glamorous exciting life.

5. Most energy drinks are formulated using a lot of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners to mask the taste of bitter caffeine anhydrous and B vitamins. They also know that sugar encourages users to consume more of their product, to keep the short-lived sugar high going.

When all these factors converge around one class of products, we get a "perfect storm" of bad behavior, unhealthy excess, and health dangers that are driven by marketers' desire for maximizing profits at the expense of the gullible youth market.

The end results are unpleasant for youths and their parents -- and energy drinks get most of the blame. This is unfortunate, because there are surprising benefits to be found -- and much of the incentives to excessive use can be removed -- if we did a bit of calm, rational thinking about this problem.

Energy Drink Facts to the Rescue!

People unfamiliar with energy drinks suppose that all energy drinks are inherently unhealthy. This is not true. I follow the energy drink market carefully and I am aware of no convincing proof that, by their very nature, all energy drinks are dangerous or unhealthy. Individual ingredients in them are arguably bad for one's health, but there is no mystical alchemy that takes place when water, caffeine, sugar, vitamins, herbs, and flavorings are combined, that turns these familiar items into a poison potion.

(After all, the majority of American parents take vitamins -- and probably wish their kids would -- and parents drink coffee or tea with sugar in it, so how is it any different when these ingredients are combined in a carbonated drink, which kids prefer?)

There are some formulations that are far healthier than others -- and some are much worse. Some mixtures of ingredients make those who drink them more likely to keep drinking beyond a safe limit. Wouldn't it be smart to find and use the healthy ones, while avoiding the unhealthy?

Then, too, there is the issue of young people who tend to overindulge because they haven't yet experienced their first caffeine overdose -- a very unpleasant sensation that can appear without warning. Just as with alcoholic beverages, there is a lag time between the feeling of being on top of the world and the sudden realization that you've had too much (and bad things are about to happen).

So, the energy drink facts are very different for an adult than for the young person who is about to learn all these subtleties the hard way, through personal experience and without adult guidance.

Do you see what I'm saying? Most of the problems and medical "close calls" are caused by inexperienced-but-overconfident youth's tendency to find their limits by overdoing energy drinks, just as they discover the laws of physics by pushing a speeding automobile beyond its limits.

In the hands of a knowledgeable adult (or an intelligent child), energy drinks can be a blessing, when wise formulation meets responsible use.

When irresponsible marketers and unhealthy ingredients are taken out of the picture, there is no longer any inherent desire to over-consume these drinks. Lowering the sugar content to minimal levels so there is no crash to avoid by consuming drink after drink is one part of the solution.

Removing the caffeine anhydrous and replacing it with the herbal caffeine source, guarana, also eliminates the "big rush/fast crash" that comes with the more water-soluble caffeine anhydrous. This can be accomplished by carefully selecting energy drinks that don't use caffeine, but rather the slow-acting more satisfying guarana as the primary stimulant.

Bringing education into the home about how to use these drinks for maximum advantage and minimum ill effects is also a good idea. Prohibition of energy drinks by parents doesn't work any more than prohibition of alcohol use does -- it only drives these activities into the shadows and makes open discussions of the energy drink facts impossible.

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Comments 2 comments

ahmed 4 years ago

nice facts

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Paul Kemp 4 years ago Author

Thanks for commenting, Ahmed. Glad you liked it.

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