World Health Organization (WHO) researchers recently published an analysis of energy drink consumption in Europe that takes into account relevant scientific literature published through June 2014. Joao Breda, et al., “Energy drink consumption in Europe: a review of the risks, adverse health effects, and policy options to respond,” Frontiers in Public Health, October 2014. Noting that most adverse events associated with energy drink consumption are caffeine-related, the study reports that some energy drinks contain “extreme caffeine levels much higher than mainstream brands as they try to establish themselves in the market.”
“Consumption of energy drinks among adolescents is associated with other potentially negative health and behavioral outcomes such as sensation seeking, use of tobacco and other harmful substances, and binge drinking and is associated with a greater risk for depression and injuries that require medical treatment,” suggest the study’s authors. “There is an increasing amount of research linking energy drink consumption with high-risk behavior, particularly when combined with alcohol.”
To mitigate the risk of caffeine overdose and other health effects, the study ultimately recommends setting an upper limit on the amount of caffeine contained in a single energy-drink serving. In addition, the authors advocate marketing and sale restrictions to reduce consumption among youth.
“Energy drink manufacturers aggressively market their products to children, adolescents, and young adults,” concludes the report. “The absence of regulatory oversight in many countries has contributed to the aggressive marketing of energy drinks targeted primarily toward young males. Regulatory agencies should enforce industry-wide standards for responsible marketing of energy drinks and ensure that the risks associated with energy drink consumption are well known.”