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Junk Food Science: What Kids See On TV Can Hurt Them

June 21, 2013
by Tom Laskawy
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Chang page.

As New York City likes to remind us, kids can drink themselves fat on sugary drinks. But another popular drink option for kids, high-caffeine "energy drinks" such as Monster or Red Bull, has an even darker side: the possibility that you can drink yourself dead.

A handful of deaths that allegedly resulted from quaffing energy drinks, including that of a 14-year-old girl, led several senators last year to call on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate these drinks, something it does not currently do (although the agency did step in and restrict drinks that mix alcohol and caffeine, thanks to the infamous Four Loko malt beverage).

But now, energy drinks are coming under fire from an unexpected source - doctors. At its annual meeting, the American Medical Association, an influential physician's lobbying group, passed a resolution calling on the Federal Trade Commission to ban marketing of high-caffeine energy drinks to young people. According to Bloomberg News, an AMA board member declared:

Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems   Banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids.

This is notable, given the AMA's historical reluctance to come down strongly against beverage companies. It's even more significant given the recent trend of beverage companies countering anti-soda moves around the country by paying off doctors. The American Academy of Family Physicians took a pile of money from Coca-Cola a few years back to fund health initiatives. Another episode involved the American Beverage Association giving the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia $10 million to head off an effort to institute a citywide soda tax.    

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