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Starbucks for Kids: The Avalanche of Energy Drinks

No wonder Las Vegas marketers chose the ridiculous name Cocaine, for their newest energy drink: It was only one of some 500 hyper-caffeinated drinks in a can introduced worldwide so far this year alone!

Some insane numbers about the economics behind the energy drink craze that may explain why you're seeing your teens drinking those tall, skinny cans that some say taste like "carbonated cough syrup" with greater regularity:

  • This sector of the soft drink industry now accounts for some $3.4 billion annually, a spike of some 80 percent from last year.
  • Almost 8 million American teens consume energy drinks, a climb of nearly 40 percent in three years.
  • Red Bull leads the pack among Americans with a 37 percent share of the marketplace, and 2.5 billion cans are sold worldwide annually.
  • As competition for consumer dollars grows, so are the sizes of cans, now 24 ounces, or triple the size of the standard skinnier cans.

No surprise, reports of caffeine overdosing are rising too, according to a Chicago poison center that found teens were mixing energy drinks, not only with alcohol, but other drugs. And, a University of Wisconsin study discovered the combination of caffeine and taurine in energy drinks didn't improve short-term memory but slowed down heart rates and caused blood pressures to rise.

All these numbers still don't take into account the average amount of sugar contained in energy drinks, estimated to be about 14 teaspoons for every two cans, according to experts. If you're looking for a natural energy boost without the "bull," you'll want to review an article about some simpler, saner and healthier solutions.

East Valley Tribune October 29, 2006

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