Dr. Amelia Arria Leads Group Urging FDA to Regulate Energy Drinks
Dr. Amelia Arria, director of the University of Maryland School of Public Health's Center for Young Adult Health and Development, and a group of 17 researchers, scientists, clinicians, and public health professionals jointly urged the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 to take action on energy drinks to protect adolescents and children from the possible risks of consuming high amounts of caffeine.
Their letter summarized scientific evidence showing that the caffeine levels in energy drinks pose serious potential health risks, including increased risk of injury or even death, and suggested that the FDA has failed to apply its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) standards for food additives to regulate energy drinks.
Energy drinks, which are flavored beverages that contain added amounts of caffeine, as well as other additives such as taurine, guarana (a natural source of caffeine), and ginseng, have surged in popularity in recent years, particularly among adolescents (recent reports estimate that 30-50 percent of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks). The U.S. energy drink industry is projected to reach $19.7 billion in sales by 2013.
Energy drinks vary with respect to caffeine content and concentration, yet the high caffeine content of many energy drinks is not disclosed on the product label and many avoid regulation by labeling the beverages dietary supplements. Dr. Arria and colleagues urge the FDA to apply the existing GRAS standard for sodas to energy drinks and other beverages that contain caffeine as an additive and to require manufacturers to list the caffeine content of their energy drinks on the labels.
Dr. Arria has been a leading voice expressing concern about the dangers of energy drinks and the risks to adolescents and young adults since January 2011, when she published a letter on the topic in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found at .
As the principal investigator for the NIH-funded College Life Study, Dr. Arria's research focuses on health-related behaviors that influence young adult health and development. See College Life Study website for more.