To defend America’s youth from the rising threat of energy drinks, we launched an official petition at WhiteHouse.gov calling for more federal regulation of the way energy drink companies market and sell highly caffeinated beverages to minors.
Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to the extreme and unknown quantities of caffeine, sugar, and additives in these drinks. In 2011, a 14-year-old girl named Anais Fournier died after drinking two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks and going into cardiac arrest. The official cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”
Why We Launched This Petition
This petition could save lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that “caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.” Unfortunately, due to a lack of FDA regulation, energy drink companies have copied Big Tobacco’s blueprint of marketing to children—with unnerving efficiency. (The energy drink industry generated $12.5 billion stateside in 2014, and that number is expected to balloon to $20 billion by 2017.)
According to a 2013 Yale University study, “Energy drinks: An emerging public health hazard for youth,” energy drink ads often appear on social media, on networks like MTV and MTV2, and during extreme sporting events: all platforms that target American youth. In 2010, children saw more television ads for 5-Hour Energy than for any beverage but Capri Sun. In 2011, a whopping 35% of eighth graders reported consuming energy drinks, while the number of energy drink-related emergency room visits by 12-to-17-year-olds swelled from 1,145 (in 2007) to 1,499 (in 2011).
Even more jarring, a 2013 study by the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine found that half of energy drink-related calls to poison control centers in 2011 involved children under six years old. According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, poison center calls involving energy drinks soared from 672 in 2010 to 3,028 in 2013, with 61% of calls concerning minors.
Over the past few years, doctors’ groups like the AAP and the American Medical Association, senators like Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal, and consumer advocacy organizations like the Rudd Center have all campaigned for stricter regulations on the marketing and sales of energy drinks to children. We echo their calls, and encourage them—and you—to join the fight.
How You Can Join the Fight
Go to WhiteHouse.gov and sign the petition.
If and when we obtain 100,000 signatures, the Obama administration must respond to our demand for more transparency from and regulation of the energy drink industry.
Inform yourself about the dangers of energy drinks on our site, then spread the word about this vital issue using the hashtag #RethinktheDrink. Tell your friends, your family, your Congressperson, and the FDA that it’s high time we held Big Energy accountable for targeting children.
If nothing else, we hope this petition succeeds in raising awareness about this growing public health hazard.