AMA: No more energy drinks for kids

Doctors vote to support banning marketing and selling energy drinks to kids. The American Beverage Association fights back.

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted during its annual meeting to adopt several new policies on emerging issues in public health and science, including support for banning the marketing and sale of energy drinks to kids.

"Stimulant drinks have surged in popularity in recent years, especially among high school and college students, and health advocates are concerned about the use of these drinks among adolescents due to excessive amounts of caffeine. The [U.S. Food & Drug Administration] is continuing to investigate reports of illness, injury or death of people who drank products marketed as 'energy drinks' or 'energy shots.' The AMA today adopted policy supporting a ban of the marketing of high-stimulant/caffeine drinks to adolescents under the age of 18," it said.

"Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids," said AMA board member Alexander Ding, M.D.

In response to that proposal, the American Beverage Association (ABA) issued a statement:

"We welcome the opportunity to share the facts on energy drinks with the American Medical Association. Most energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee and most of the caffeine consumed by 14- to 21-year olds comes from foods and beverages other than energy drinks, according to a 2010 FDA report.

"Leading energy drink companies also voluntarily display total caffeine amounts—from all sources—on their packages, as well as an advisory statement indicating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women or persons sensitive to caffeine, and do not sell or market energy drinks in K-12 schools."

The beverage group also said that "caffeine has been deemed safe for consumption by regulatory agencies throughout the world."

It added:

  • The 2012 DAWN Report shows that, of the more than 123 million visits made to emergency room facilities each year, less than one one-hundredth of 1 percent involved people who allegedly consumed an energy drink.
  • The report shares no information about the overall health of those who allegedly consumed energy drinks or even what symptoms brought them to the ER in the first place.
  • It shows that nearly half of those who visited the emergency room had consumed alcohol or taken illegal substances or pharmaceuticals, making their consumption of energy drinks "potentially irrelevant."

The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.

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