Alcohol, Energy Drinks and Youth: A Dangerous Mix

We borrowed the title for this post from the eye-opening report written by our recent guest Michele Simon, of Marin Institute and James Mosher, of Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

We have been talking a lot lately about energy drinks and other new generations of sodas aimed at our youth. Fact is, as previously mentioned, the energy drink market has been growing at a staggering 12% rate each year.

Unfortunately, the definition for energy drinks is quite vague: Wikipedia defines them as soft drinks advertised as being specifically designed to provide energy. One key word is: advertised as. Note that the claim does not have to be supported by facts, nor does it have to guarantee the drink is safe... What all these beverages have in common is caffeine. For an exhaustive database of caffeine content in energy drinks, check here.
All of them have a sweet taste, either from sugars, or artificial sweeteners. Then, a bunch of processed, "herbal" ingredients, not all regulated by our agencies. In brief, anything that creates the feeling of being boosted. So here comes alcohol. It was Michele Simon who brought these new kinds of cool sodas to our attention last month on air, and ever since, news from the beverage industry has kept ringing alarms:

Today, we learned that Anheuser-Busch Cos. is planning to invest more into digital advertising to attract young, web-savvy "contemporary adults." The brewer is increasingly using the web to spread and fine-tune its advertising, as it allows the company to test edgy material that, in years past, would never have been seen for fear of causing offense on television.
This company is famous for its beer operations, but it sure made its entry into the lucrative, unregulated energy drink market. Although Spykes was withdrawn from the market, a bunch of related beverages are still offered. Here is a list, with products pictures. All-targeted to our youth. Now that Anheuser-Busch is mastering the art of edgy digital advertising -not regulated as TV advertising- we do see why the industry is so confident about the growth of this category.
At our youth' expense.
As Michele Simon states, it is urgent that both scientists and policymakers should focus increased attention on this emerging product category.


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