The Real Problem with 5 Hour and other Energy Drinks

5 Hour EnergyMuch has been written in the last few days about the FDA’s investigation of 5 Hour Energy‘s responsibility for 13 deaths in the last few years. Supposedly, something in the drinks caused serious side effects that led to hospitalizations and even people dying.

But whether it’s the caffeine, phenylalanine, use in conjunction with alcohol or drugs is not really important. Fact is, lettuce (thanks to salmonella) kills more people every year than all energy drinks combined.

The real problem with energy drinks is that they are a marketing lie. Like many other processed products that are supposed to make us healthier, more alert, and sexier too, there is simply not enough evidence to support their claimed benefits.These products are targeted at young people who don’t always exercise proper judgement. And at older people who are looking for a panacea that does not exist.

Red Bull, 5 Hour, 4 Loco, and others are selling a fake dream. They are supported by huge marketing budgets because their products command a huge profit margin. After all they’re mostly water, sugar, and a mix of cheap vitamins and caffeine.

Instead of getting kids to eat more vegetables and fruits, which actually can improve health, our warped food culture convinces them to consume more crap. Imagine what a $100 million TV ad campaign could do for broccoli…

  • Liv Marie

    Amen! We are so dicieved!! Please wake up America!

  • Pat

    I’m all for eating healthy and do so most of the time. But 5 hour, monster etc help you stay awake. They aren’t healthy by any means, but eating broccoli halfway through an all nighter isn’t really going to help. I think saying they sell a “fake dream” is a little much.

  • anna6832

    I had a friend pass away partly due to energy drinks. Love this and hope it opens eyes!

  • Forest Blunt

    As far as i’m concerned 5 hour energy is the legal version of liquid meth. The product itself is bad but when you mix it with other bad legal stuff like alcohol it turns deadly. The problem is people consume too much of it and that’s when they have complications

  • Jensen_G

    I do think that energy drinks have their place (just as coffee has its place), and some people are ok paying extra for a “glamour” product (there are also tons of cheap energy drinks out there that don’t cost any more than regular soda).

    That being said, this overabundance of energy drinks has to do with our overworked society. No siestas here; instead, we work through lunch, take work home, etc. A radio ad for 5-hour-energy in NYC mentions it as a coffee alternative that you only need to drink once instead of the 3-4 coffee you’re already drinking. 3-4 coffees per day is a lot of caffeine! Our culture is encouraging the proliferation of these drinks.

  • Thomas Townsend

    let the government do what you should be doing for yourself and your children (if
    you have any). Usage in moderation, similar to coffee and alcohol usage should
    not pose a problem. I personally like Rock Star brand energy drinks; I drink
    the sugar free and only use them for the ergogenic benefit prior to my gym
    workouts. So it really comes down to: Morals, Ethics and Role Models. I have
    (2) school age children and I won’t allow them to drink these or coffee or alcohol.
    Until its legal and I know they can make the appropriate decision on usage that
    also comes with maturity. They know Dad
    uses for a pre-w/o boost. That’s how I want them to see them. I also don’t use
    them all the time so they are not a crutch either. BTW good luck on that Broccoli
    Campaign – Let me know how that works out J

  • chef Marshall O’Brien

    Agreed. We have a food culture that supports fake, cheap, food and drinks. keep it up with the quality posts.
    chef Marshall O’Brien

  • carol

    Try kale chips, a cup o’ tea, and 10 min. of fast walking. Satisfying and energizing.

  • Bradley

    Misuse of statistics (c’mon Fooducate!) with the lettuce reference: it’s a safe bet that many more servings of lettuce are consumed per American than bottles of 5-hour energy, so that we would expect many more overall deaths from lettuce. The relevant question is the increased RISK PER SERVING of hospitalization or death from lettuce or 5-hour energy. And because lettuce does good things for you too, I bet the energy drink would lose any relative risk comparison hands down.

  • James Cooper

    I have no idea what “highly processed” and “controversial artificial sweeteners” mean, but I suspect these claims are as bogus as theirs are. There is no evidence for those claims either. And sodium benzoate seems perfectly safe based on what I can discover.

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  • Heather

    5 Hour Energy is DANGEROUS! I’m a personal trainer, so I have brutal early AM hours. I started drinking one of these each morning for that quick “get up and go” feeling. I am super healthy and eat 90% clean and organic, this was my “guilty pleasure” because I didn’t know what else to do. After several months of drinking these once a day 5 days a week, It ended up completely frying my adrenal glands and I became a wreck! I was ridiculously fatigued and my hormones were an absolute mess. It took 6 months to recalibrate my hormones and adrenals from using this product. I don’t feel like I’ll ever be quite the same. I beg people not to get sucked into using this product or any like it.