Earlier this year, a half-dozen students from City Hill Middle School, in Naugatuck, Connecticut, traveled with their science teacher, Katrina Spina, to the state capital to testify in support of a bill that would ban sales of energy drinks to children under the age of 16. Having devoted three months to a chemistry unit studying the ingredients in and potential health impacts of common energy drinks—with brand names like Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Rockstar—the students came to a sobering conclusion: “Energy drinks can be fatal to everyone, but especially to adolescents,” a seventh grader, Luke Deitelbaum, told state legislators. “Even though this is true, most energy-drink companies continue to market these drinks specifically toward teens.”
A 2018 report found that more than 40 percent of American teens surveyed had consumed an energy drink within the past three months. Another survey found that 28 percent of adolescents in the European Union had consumed these sorts of beverages in the past three days.
This popularity is in marked contrast to the recommendations of groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine, who say youth should forgo these products entirely. These recommendations are based on concerns about health problems that, although rare, can occur after consumption, including seizures, delirium, rapid heart rate, stroke, and even sudden death. A U.S. government report found that from 2007 to 2011, the number of emergency-department visits involving energy drinks more than doubled, to nearly 21,000.