(HealthDay News) – Heavily caffeinated energy drinks have been successfully marketed to adolescents, who often mix them with alcohol, with potentially dangerous consequences, according to a review published in the Feb. 1 issue of Pediatrics in Review.

Noting that caffeinated energy drinks are advertised as boosting the immune system, enhancing performance, and creating a “high,” Kwabena L. Blankson, MD, from the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA, and colleagues reviewed the contents, benefits, and risks of the use of these drinks by adolescents.

The authors note that energy drinks contain guarana, taurine, ginseng, sugars, B vitamins, and caffeine. The quantity of caffeine is usually not stated, or when stated, is frequently inaccurate; energy drinks are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Popular energy drinks contain 154–280mg of caffeine per 16-ounce can, equivalent to two to three cups of coffee, with some drinks containing >500mg per can. The energy drink industry has successfully targeted adolescents, who frequently combine energy drinks and alcohol, while some energy drinks are manufactured already mixed with alcohol. Health care providers should ask about energy drink use and about caffeine intake and drug use. In addition, they should try to educate adolescents and provide counseling on daily exercise, early bedtime, and healthy dieting to address some of the issues which underlie energy drink consumption.

“By educating themselves, adolescents, and parents about the potentially dangerous consequences of energy drink consumption, pediatricians may prevent unnecessary evaluation of symptoms due to energy drink effects and halt the needless hospitalization of young adults who mix energy drinks with alcohol,” Blankson and colleagues conclude.

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