The risks of heavy consumption of energy drinks among young people could soon become a significant public health problem, according to a new report.
Adverse health effects from consuming energy drinks with alcohol are a special concern, Time reports.
"The consumption of high amounts of caffeine contained within energy drinks reduces drowsiness without diminishing the effects of alcohol resulting in a state of 'wide-awake- drunkenness,' keeping the individual awake longer with the opportunity to continue drinking," the authors wrote in Frontiers in Public Health.
The researchers say consuming high levels of caffeine very quickly may lead to "caffeine intoxication," which can cause nausea, high blood pressure and heart palpitations.
The report, written by officials from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, recommend policymakers establish an upper limit for caffeine content, enforce labeling and marketing standards, regulate the sale of energy drinks to children, and train healthcare workers about the risks of energy drinks. They also recommend screening patients with a history of diet issues and substance abuse for dangerous levels of energy drink consumption.
This summer the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put safety warnings on energy drinks. The drinks have been linked to 17 deaths in the past two years. The group called for warning labels to tell consumers about the risk of heart attack, convulsion, and other adverse reaction to energy drinks.
CSPI says that while no study has proven that energy drinks have caused these deaths, 34 people have died in the United States in the past 10 years after consuming Monster, Rockstar or 5-Hour Energy. The group also asked the FDA to reduce the amount of caffeine legally allowed in energy drinks to 71 milligrams per 12 ounces. This is the amount allowed in colas.