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Alison Mynick, RN, Esq.
Alison Mynick, RN, Esq.
Contributor •

Energy Drinks Bad for Maine's Teenagers?

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Need a caffeine boost to get through the afternoon? If you’re under the age of eighteen and live in Maine, you may soon have a tough time buying that can of Red Bull or Monster Energy. State Representative Troy Jackson has filed legislation that would make it illegal for Maine vendors to sell energy drinks containing 80 or more milligrams of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces to minors. If passed into law, violators would face hefty fines, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Jackson is not standing alone on his side of the fence regarding this issue. Public health advocates and local educators have expressed concerns that there are numerous downsides to the supposedly uplifting thirst quenchers. Some say the drinks contain not only too much caffeine, but too much sugar as well. For example, a 16 oz. can of AMP delivers the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of sugar. The short term effects of that much sugar and caffeine could lead to disruptive behaviors in school, in addition to increased levels of heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, dehydration, and insomnia. Long term, Maine teenagers face the possibility of increased weight, dental cavities, and a dependency on caffeine. The problems and risks would be greater with increased consumption.

Not surprisingly, beverage industry groups and teenagers don’t know what all the buzz is about. The American Beverage Association contends that the drinks contain about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and teenagers say they don’t know or care what’s in the stuff.

It may all be a moot point in the end, since many young Mainers find the price tag of these much-ballyhooed beverages beyond the limits of their wallets. Some are finding the perfect solution to the problem…that inexpensive plastic bottle of water.

by Anne M. Fennessey
Briggs & Counsel