Monday, July 26, 2010

Super-caffeinated "Beverages" Are Actually "Drugs"

Did you know that one can of heavily marketed energy drink WiredX505 has the caffeine equivalent of ten (10!) cans of cola? How do the makers of these drinks get away with masking the truth? They're so loaded with caffeine, children shouldn't drink them and containers should be labeled to indicate they are drugs.

The editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) warn that drinks such as WiredX505 and Fixx are really drugs marketed as tasty syrupy refreshments. Fuzzy labelings on caffeine-loaded drinks have lulled and by now repeatedly tricked consumers into buying products that doctors warn "have crossed the line from beverages to drugs." They maintain official warning labels on drinks are not comparable to those currently mandatory for caffeine tablets as they should be.

Dr. Noni MacDonald, Dr. Matthew Stanbrook and Dr. Paul C. Hebert in the current month's editorial, just published, entitled "Caffeinating children and youth" (CMAJ, July 23, 2010) exhort advertisers of these drinks to end promotions targeting vulnerable children who are "notorious for making poor health choices." Dr. MacDonald, Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University et al. assert the marketing of energy drinks is "distinctly different" because companies increasingly target children and youth through sponsorship of events such as snowboarding and skateboarding competitions.

Noni MacDonald, M.D.

Astoundingly, caffeine information is invisible on these products,  and containers should be properly marked to warn consumers of the dangers. Too much caffeine is well known to cause "nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness and, occasionally, rapid heart rate." Red Bull was prohibited in France until 2008, and in Denmark until 2009. 

These drinks are often mixed with alcohol by college students, creating potentially hazardous combinations. A survey showed that "college students who mixed alcohol with energy drinks were three times more likely [than other patrons] to leave a bar highly intoxicated and four times more likely to drive while intoxicated." 

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