Doctors warn against teen energy drink consumption, but the amount of TV advertising devoted to teens for these products fights that.
Researchers at Dartmouth College examined a database of television advertisements broadcast between March 2012 and February 2013 on 139 network and cable channels and found that more than 608 hours of advertisements for energy drinks were aired.
Nearly half of those advertisements, 46.5 percent, appeared on networks with content themes likely to appeal to adolescents.
Energy drinks, including shots and drops, contain caffeine often at levels greater than traditional soda and other ingredients meant to stimulate energy.
The caffeine content in these drinks can be as high as 200 mg per 16-oz serving. Although generally recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, high caffeine intake among adolescents has been linked to many adverse health effects, some of which could be quite serious for individuals with underlying health conditions.
In 2013, both the American Medical Association and the US Senate Commerce Committee supported banning the marketing of energy drinks to adolescents because of potential health risks related to adolescent consumption of high caffeine beverages. Little quantitative research has been conducted to date to document the promotional practices of energy drink manufacturers on US television, which led to the Dartmouth study.
Although this study focused solely on television advertisements and singled out data from the top 10 networks, the results are useful for nutrition educators and practitioners.
In light of the rapidly expanding energy drink market and the high volume of advertisements across platforms, adolescents should be made aware of the potential dangers of energy drink consumption and advised about their potential health risks.
The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.