Ann Brody Guy, College of Natural Resources
A group of doctors and public health experts are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from the effects of caffeinated energy drinks. In a letter signed by 18 medical doctors and public health professors delivered to the FDA today (March 19), experts cite research that links consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks to rapidly increasing numbers of emergency room visits and even deaths.
“Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the serious health risks of these drinks,” said Patricia Crawford, a signatory on the letter and the director of the Atkins Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley. “They have no place in the diets of young people.” There are no health benefits and potentially grave health risks, says Crawford, who is also an adjunct professor of public health at Berkeley.
The letter, which is directed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, cites research showing energy-drink related emergency room visits have doubled between 2007 and 2011, and documents a number of increased risks for cardiovascular complications and seizures, among other problems associated with youth consumption of the beverages. It urges the FDA to take immediate action to protect young people.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose office has been investigating the safety of highly caffeinated energy drinks such as Monster Energy, issued a similar letter. It states that the burden is on the manufacturers to prove that an additive is safe for its intended use based on scientific consensus and published literature.
In addition to Crawford, signatories include Kristine Madsen, an assistant professor of public health at Berkeley and a UC San Francisco pediatrician, and faculty from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, University of Massachussetts Memorial Medical Center, and several other institutions across the United States.