The Times West Virginian

Opinion

March 31, 2013

Should caffeine-rich energy drinks be regulated?

They call them energy drinks.

But perhaps they should be referred to as “stimulant” drinks. The various energy drinks, from the little shots you buy on the counters of convenient stores to the tall cans purported to “give you wings” all have one thing in common — caffeine. Well, they actually have another thing in common — the don’t have to tell you how much caffeine that’s in them either.

A regular cup of coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine. So you wake up after a not-so-long night’s sleep and brew a pot of coffee before you start your day. Chances are, you sit and sip your fresh-brewed cup. Perhaps you feel like a second cup, so you stumble over to the coffee pot and pour another one.

So, over the course of maybe an hour or 90 minutes, you’ve gradually put 200 milligrams of caffeine into your system. However, if you’re on the run and didn’t have time to brew a pot and just slammed down a shot of energy drink in a little two-ounce bottle, you’ve shocked your body will more than 200 milligrams within seconds.

“Getting a lot of caffeine all at once along with potentially harmful megadoses of vitamins is a bad way to go, and there is real potential for misuse,” said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of consumberlab.com, which tested several.

“Thousands of case reports bear this out. In addition, people who mix energy drinks and alcohol are more likely to engage in risky behavior because it makes them feel or act alert while they are mentally compromised.”

Thousands go to emergency rooms across the country each year because of caffeine overdoses. And, sadly, 11 lose their lives.

“The problem with consuming large amounts of caffeine is two-fold, One, it targets the central nervous system directly. Two, it can lead to dehydration and loss of water-soluble nutrients that have a calming effect on the central nervous system. This combined effect can cause agitation and sleep problems and potentially lead to the development of long-term anxiety issues,” Dr. K. Steven Whiting, author of “Healthy Living Made Easy,” told The Huffington Post.

Heart palpitations. Chest pain. Tremors. Shortness of breath.

These are the symptoms that doctors in emergency rooms see when too much energy drinks are consumed. And a lot of those cases are children, who can freely open a cooler at their local store and buy one. Or two. Or three.

There’s been a push for lawmakers and the Food and Drug Administration to put the brakes on children being allowed to purchase these products. Others believe in buyer beware, though uninformative labeling makes that a little difficult.

But we wondered what our readers thought of energy drinks. So when we wonder, we ask our readers on our online poll question, which can be found each week at www.timeswv.com. Last week we asked, “A study found that energy drinks may increase blood pressure, putting consumers at risk for sudden cardiac episodes and even death. Should they be regulated?”

And here’s what you had to say:

• Perhaps warning labels would help, like those attached to cigarettes and alcohol — 22.89 percent

• Absolutely not — people should be responsible for what they eat and drink — 24.1 percent

• Yes! Children should never be allowed to purchase such drinks — 53.01 percent

We’ll keep our finger on the pulse of this issue, if you’ll pardon the bad pun, as it’s sure to heat up in the coming months.

This week, let’s talk about health again. Two of West Virginia’s largest population areas — Charleston and Huntington — ranked the lowest for “well being” on a recent Gallop poll, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the state, receiving a failing grade for physical and emotional health, work environment and access to basic necessities. How can we tackle health problems in the Mountain State?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech

    By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
    Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.

    April 24, 2014

  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads