Some media outlets are covering a new report related to emergency room visits. Why do we care? Because the focus is on energy drinks. This is a perfect opportunity for us to say: don’t believe the hype! In fact, there are some really important things you need to know that are not being reported.
First, the reported amount of caffeine in energy drinks is FAR from the truth. The authors of this report inaccurately suggest that the caffeine contained in energy drinks is dramatically higher than other caffeinated beverages, even comparing the amount of caffeine in an average energy drink with that of a 5 ounce cup of coffee. While we know that energy drinks don’t come in 5 ounce containers, we’d like to ask: when’s the last time you had a 5 ounce cup of coffee? Clearly this is an unfair comparison.
And there’s more on the caffeine front. One media article included comment from an ER physician stating that three energy drinks had the same amount of caffeine as 15 cups of coffee! We’re glad this doctor isn’t treating any of us! Most mainstream energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee.
And if you were to read the DAWN Report, there’s a lot you wouldn’t know - like what symptoms brought these patients to the ER in the first place, what their overall health was, or even if they’ve accurately self-reported what they’ve consumed or ingested.
What the report does show is that of the 136 million emergency room visits in a year, less than two one-hundredths of a percent are allegedly related to energy drinks. And the report also shows that 42 percent of the alleged energy drink-related ER visits were by someone who had admitted to consuming alcohol or taking illegal substances or pharmaceuticals. So whether or not they also had an energy drink may be irrelevant. We also have no idea about how much total caffeine they may have consumed – such as from coffee or other caffeinated products.
So here’s what we know: don’t base whether or not you should drink energy drinks on this report. There’s a number of omissions, and as many inaccuracies.