You’ve seen these drinks all over television and in the stores. Over the past several years, high-dose caffeine energy drinks have been aggressively marketed to teens and young adults. In 2006 alone, about 500 new brands of energy drinks were introduced. In fact, 7.6 million young people say they have used energy drinks, with consumption more than doubling in the past three years. The energy drink industry in the United States alone has ballooned into a $3 billion-a-year enterprise.1
But not all caffeinated drinks are created equal; the amount of caffeine varies greatly from one drink to another. Most cola soft drinks have from 22 to 55 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. By comparison, energy drinks can have from 80 to 500 mg of caffeine in one can!2 Beverage companies compete to market the drink that gives the biggest jolt. To do this, they combine caffeine with other substances such as sugars, alcohol, or other stimulants in order to intensify its effects. These drinks often come in larger and larger containers.
What are the consequences of high caffeine consumption? First and foremost, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can lead to addiction. Both as a doctor and as a member of the Church, I recognize the physical, mental, and spiritual dangers of any addictive substance. Any addictive behavior, whatever the source, can lead to a loss of spiritual health and freedom. I have treated a number of caffeine-related medical conditions in young people and in adults. These conditions include jitteriness, agitation, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, dehydration, weight gain, depression, high blood pressure, and rapid heart rate. There have even been reports of deaths as a direct result of caffeine overdose.3