Congress works to restrict energy drinks: Are they harmful? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Congress works to restrict energy drinks: Are they harmful?

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The Food and Drug Administration has an ongoing investigation into the sugary caffeinated goodness millions of Americans consume every day.

More than $12 billion worth of energy drinks were consumed in the United States in 2012 according to Medical News Today.

Although popular, some warn energy products may do more harm than good.

"You drink one of the high powered energy drinks you got 260 milligrams of caffeine in three ounces, and some people will know of a couple of them," Columbus Regional Health Physician Dr. Clark Gillett said.

Three Democratic senators want to put age restrictions on energy drinks making them available only to adults age 18 and up. Senators Richard Durbin, Eric Markey, and Richard Blumenthal argue teens are more vulnerable to health problems associated with energy products and they want the FDA to investigate.

We caught up with Dr. Gillett at Columbus Regional Emergency Room where he's seen the bad effects of energy drinks first-hand.

"It starts out you first get the buzz, heart rate goes up, you get a little bit of a tremor," Dr. Gillett said. "But if you get too much you could start having a very rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, and some people who are particularly vulnerable can have serious cardiac arrest."

A recent government survey reports that from 2007 to 2011, energy drink-related hospital visits doubled going from 10,000 to more 21,000.

Doctor Gillett recommended teens consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day; remembering not to take it all at once.

"The other thing that goes on particularly with adolescents especially in college is that people are starting to mix caffeine with alcohol," Dr. Gillett said. "The caffeine doesn't make you realize how drunk you are."

Doctor Gillett said from his experience he doesn't believe a restriction would help only educating teens and their parents on the risk can possibly save them a trip to the emergency room.

Doctor Gillett said just like with anything else moderations is key.

The FDA says people should remember "energy shots" or "energy drinks" are not alternatives to sleep.

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