Houston, Texas. We’re at FNCE, the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In short, it’s the world’s largest annual event for dietitians, and is composed of both scientific education sessions, and an expo hall for companies to tout their healthy (and sometimes not so healthy) food products.
We participated in an interesting session yesterday, where several scientists walked the audience through the developments in the Energy Drink market, which has been on fire in recent years with sales growth mostly fueled by teens from middle school up to college.
And it’s no wonder; kids are sleeping less than ever before due to digital media (gaming, social networks, porn, etc…) and as a result are looking for a quick fix to sleep deprivation. They believe that an energy drink will help them focus and improve their grades.
The predatory marketing of companies like Monster, Rockstar, and Redbull make it seem super cool to be drinking this stuff. Some like the extreme sports, others like the ‘light porn” models on the product advertising materials.
Teens on college campuses are bombarded with marketing messages on orientation week, on game days, and during finals. They get free samples too. And if you’ve been to a dorm party, you know that Energy Drink and Vodka is a very popular cocktail: get drunk and stay totally alert.
The problem of course is caffeine poisoning. It has actually led to several deaths in the US, and multiple emergency room admittances. Kids’ bodies simply can’t handle all that caffeine at once.
And that’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, unequivocally: “Energy Drinks are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should NEVER be consumed”