JAMA Column Takes Aim at Energy Drinks

In the wake of the FDA’s action on Four LOKO and other alcoholic energy drinks, many industry observers — as well as many drinkers — quickly noted that the products under review were merely shortcuts that reflected the popularity of an older product, that old reliable bar call, good ol’ Red Bull and Vodka (or RB and Tequila, RB and Rum, the “Jager Bomb,” etc.)

Now, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has noticed, as well.

In an opinion column called The “High” Risk of Energy Drinks, a pair of University of Maryland researchers called out the prevalence of these kinds of drinks, explaining that in taking caffeine out of Four LOKO the FDA had addressed “only a fraction of the true public health risk.” Also a problem: kids drinking caffeinated products, kids mixing said products with booze, and kids’ use of those products — whether or not they are mixing them with booze — could possibly make them have higher risk factors for addictive behavior.

To counter this the authors call for labeling: “regulatory agencies should require specific labeling regarding caffeine content, with warnings about the risks associated with caffeine consumption in adolescents and in pregnant women as well as with explicit information about the potential risks associated with mixing energy drinks with alcohol.”