Arguing Cause Mitch Vollhaber

I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting:
I thought that the part about how energy drink companies do not have to call their product a beverage to be particularly interesting.

This part was surprisingly difficult:
One thing that I struggled with was to make sure that I did not start to solve the problem throughout the paper.

Next time I would do this differently:
Next time I am going to start with an outline so I will be able to keep my paper more organized during the writing process.


Energy Drinks and the Effects on the Heart

In today's world, we live in an environment where it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the tasks that need to get done. This leads to most people not getting the amount of sleep they need each night. To make up for that loss of sleep, it is becoming more popular to turn to energy drinks to provide an extra boost during the day. As the consumption of energy drinks becomes more popular, the frequency of hospital visits related to energy drinks increases as well (Gunja and Brown 46). There have been reports of increased strain on the heart in some individuals after consuming only one energy drink, potentially leading to severe problems in individuals with existing heart conditions or with a history of heart problems (Energy drinks alter heart function, study shows). Consumers are ending up in the hospital after consuming energy drinks because the proper labeling does not exist to warn buyers of the potential risks.

An energy drink is a caffeinated beverage that is marketed as an energy boost. They are becoming more and more popular in supermarkets and convenient (convenience) stores everywhere. In a recent study by Gunja and Brown, they explained the energy drink situation as:

The new millennium has ushered in a wave of synthetic, caffeinated high-energy drinks targeted at the youth market. Over the past 10 years, the consumption of caffeinated beverages intended to “energise” has increased significantly. Energy drinks were recently shown to comprise 20% of the total convenience store beverage market, with “Red Bull” and “V” accounting for over 97% of sales in this multimillion-dollar industry. Increasingly, toxicity from caffeine overdose is being reported to hospitals and poisons centers (46).

With the substantial increase in energy drink consumption and the corresponding increase in hospital visits, the lack of knowledge involving the side effects from energy drinks must be addressed. The general public is not aware of the risks they are exposing themselves to every time they consume an energy drink. A parent may purchase their child an energy drink mistakenly thinking they have health benefits but are actually exposing their child to health risks because advertising campaigns have convinced them otherwise.

Many people believe that the cause of these hospital visits is due to a lack of moderation on behalf of the buyer. Perhaps an individual could have avoided a trip to the hospital if only they had consumed one energy drink instead of drinking three consecutively. On the other hand, the same individual may have ended up going to the same hospital visit after drinking only one energy drink. Without knowing the details of an individual's heart health, there is no way of knowing how the ingredients in energy drinks may effect them. According to the Caffeine Informer, "despite a number of alarming reports of overdose in recent years, for most people energy drink consumption is fine in moderation" (Energy Drink Side Effects). It is important to note how they use the phrase "most people". What about the minority of people who consume energy drinks in moderation and still suffer from side effects? Just because some of the most severe side effects from energy drinks are relatively rare, that does not mean that they can simply be ignored.

The side effects from energy drinks on the heart can be more severe than just a slightly elevated heart rate. As noted in an article in Pediatrics, " although healthy people can tolerate caffeine in moderation, heavy caffeine consumption, such as drinking energy drinks, has been associated with serious consequences such as seizures, mania, stroke, and sudden death" (Seifert et al. 512) . Consumers of energy drinks are ending up with serious side effects because they are not made aware of the potential health risk by the manufacturer. Sales of energy drinks would not be as high if there was a statement on the can warning the buyer that this product may cause sudden cardiac arrest. Obviously, the corporations selling these energy drinks are not going to willingly increase the amount of warning labels on their cans since they could see a large drop in sales. It is clear that these companies are more concerned about profit margins than the safety of the consumers who buy their product.

There are many other side effects associated with energy drinks that may not be life threatening but may make some consumers uncomfortable or at the very least annoyed. In a recent study performed in Australia where seven years of call data were examined from the NSW Poisons Information Center. They found that the top ten most commonly reported side effects from energy drinks were; palpitations, tremors, restlessness, gastrointestinal upset, chest pain, dizziness, paraesthesia, insomnia, respiratory distress, and headaches (Gunja and Brown 48). While some of these side effects are less severe than others, consumers have the right to know about these health risks before they purchase a particular energy drink.

The concerns surrounding the health effects of energy drinks are even more alarming when the average age of people ending up in the hospital is revealed. In the study where seven years of call data were examined from the NSW Poisons Information Center, researchers found that "Typically, recreational users were adolescents or young adults. Median age was 17 years" (Gunja and Brown 47). It is the children that are suffering the most from the clear lack of regulation surrounding the energy drink industry. Perhaps adolescents would still choose to consume energy drinks even if they are aware of the risks, but the current lack of public knowledge is preventing parents from making the right choice when choosing what to allow their children to drink and what not to drink.

Why are energy drinks more dangerous than a typical caffeinated coffee beverage? Energy drinks have a lot more ingredients, some of which have not been thoroughly researched, than a coffee drink which is usually just water strained through crushed coffee beans. Ingredients such as Inositol and Glucuronolactone are used in energy drinks while Inositol has "been used to treat certain psychiatric disorders" (Energy Drink Side Effects) and the safety of Glucuronolactone is still debated upon (Energy Drink Side Effects). It is unclear why energy drink companies would use an ingredient in their product that is also used to treat mental disorders, but it sure does not sound like something that needs to be in a drink that is easily accessible to children. As far as Glucuronolactone, if there is any doubt about an ingredient's safety, then it should not be used in the production of a product. These are the types of ingredients that you would not find in a average coffee beverage. According to Dr. Dorner from the Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola" (qtd. in "Energy drinks alter heart function, study shows"). Even without the added ingredients like Inositol and Glucuronolactone, the amount of caffeine in these energy drinks is enough to induce strong side effects in certain individuals.

What is preventing the Food and Drug Administration from getting the information about the potential side effects of energy drinks out to consumers via a mandatory consistency in labeling or by other means? (think about rephrasing rhetorical questions as a statement — stronger claim) It seems that the companies that produces energy drinks have found loop holes in the policies that regulate consistent labeling. In a study performed by Jennifer Pomeranz and her colleagues on the public hazard of energy drinks, they noted that the " US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations contain certain requirements for beverage labels but not all manufacturers of energy drinks designate their products as ‘beverages’, thus labels are inconsistent across companies" (3). The idea that energy drink companies are able classify their products as anything other than a beverage is a huge concern. These are drinks that are being consumed increasingly more frequently by children, adolescents, and young adults (Seifert et al. 512). Until all energy drinks are actually considered a beverage, the Food and Drug Administration has their hands tied when it comes to what they can do about the inconsistent labeling found on the cans of energy drinks.

The work habits in today's world have left a lot of people with some level of sleep deprivation. This lost sleep requires a substitution to keep us productive throughout the day. It is becoming increasingly more common for people to turn to energy drinks as their sleep substitute. This increase in energy drink use has led to an increase in hospital visits due to the side effects that some individuals may experience. Large numbers of people are ending up in the hospital because the public is not aware of the wide array of side effects that are possible while or after consuming energy drinks. The lack of consumer awareness about the side effects of energy drinks will continue to be a problem as long as the inconsistency in the labeling of this product remains prevalent in the energy drink industry.

Work Cited

"Energy drinks alter heart function, study shows." Medical News Today. MediLexicon International Limited, 2 Dec. 2013. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

"Energy Drink Side Effects." Caffeine Informer. Exis. 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.

Gunja, Naren, and J. A. Brown. "Energy drinks: health risks and toxicity." The Medical Journal of Australia 196.1 (2012): 46-49. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.

Pomeranz, Jennifer L., C. R. Munsell, and J. L. Harris. "Energy drinks: An emerging public health hazard for youth" Journal of Public Health Policy (March 2013): 1-18. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

Seifert, Sara M., J. L. Schaechter,E. R. Hershorin, and S. E. Lipshultz. "Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults." Pediatrics 127.3 (2011): 511-528. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


Arguing Cause Peer Review Mitch Vollhaber

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