Blumenthal, Durbin, Markey Raise Concerns About The Marketing Of Energy Drinks At High School And Collegiate Athletic Events

(Hartford, CT) –  U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) yesterday raised concerns about the marketing of energy drinks at high school and collegiate athletic events.  

In letters to the President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the members of Congress asked for more information on what the organizations are doing to ensure student-athletes and schools are educated about possible health risks of energy drinks and what steps they are taking to limit the presence of marketing for these products at athletic events.

In yesterday’s letter, the members of Congress outlined their main concerns: “Energy drinks with names like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle, and AMP frequently target young people with claims to increase energy, attention, stamina, and physical performance…Yet, according to a recent article in Pediatrics in Review, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of the claims made by energy drink companies lack sufficient scientific evidence.  In fact, the piece states that, ‘cardiovascular effects as a result of heavy caffeine use can be a significant source of morbidity in athletes,’ and, ‘given the unknown levels of caffeine and other poorly studied additives, there is significant risk associated with energy drink consumption that may outweigh the benefits in the adolescent consumer.’”

The members of Congress also cited specific examples of energy drink companies marketing directly to student-athletes: “At some high school sporting events energy drinks are featured on scoreboards.  Another example is the practice of outstanding student athletes at some high schools being awarded the 'Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game.' As a part of this honor, photos of these athletes are taken with a pack of Monster Energy in each hand.  The targeted marketing of young people appears to be working, with estimates of 30 to 50 percent of adolescents reporting consumption of energy drinks.”

Earlier this month, following the release of a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, entitled Energy Drinks: What Teenagers (and Their Doctors) Should Know, Blumenthal, Durbin, and Markey commended the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for undertaking a review of the safety of energy drinks, including engaging with outside experts and groups.  The report found that the energy drink market has grown to its current size – with 35 percent of teenagers regularly consuming energy drinks – by focusing marketing campaigns predominantly on adolescents.  It concludes that there is significant risk associated with energy drink consumption that may outweigh the benefits for adolescents.  More information on the report, published in Pediatrics in Review, can be found HERE.

Copies of the letters are below and linked above. 

February 21, 2013

Mark Emmert
President
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
700 W. Washington Street
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, IN 46206-6222

Dear President Emmert:

We write to inquire about actions the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is taking or contemplating to educate student-athletes and school athletic departments about the potential health risks posed by energy drinks for young people and to limit the presence of energy drinks at NCAA sponsored events.

Energy drinks with names like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle, and AMP frequently target young people with claims to increase energy, attention, stamina, and physical performance. At some student sporting events energy drinks are featured on scoreboards.  This targeted marketing of young people appears to be working, with estimates that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents reporting consumption of energy drinks.

Student-athletes who consume energy drinks before, during, or after physical activity are exposed to a high dose of caffeine and other ingredients in a short window of time.  Yet, according to a recent article in Pediatrics in Review, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of the claims made by energy drink companies lack sufficient scientific evidence.  In fact, the piece states that, “cardiovascular effects as a result of heavy caffeine use can be a significant source of morbidity in athletes,” and, ”given the unknown levels of caffeine and other poorly studied additives, there is significant risk associated with energy drink consumption that may outweigh the benefits in the adolescent consumer.”  Other reports have pointed out that the ingredients found in these drinks can cause dehydration, irregular heartbeat, nausea, arrhythmia, and in some cases death.

As a national leader in interscholastic sports and activities that help student-athletes, the NCAA can educate students, schools, and athletic departments about the potential health risks posed to young people by consuming energy drinks.  Further, the NCAA can play a meaningful role in limiting the marketing of energy drinks to student-athletes at school sponsored events.  We look forward to learning about what actions the NCAA is considering to ensure student-athletes and schools are educated about the possible health risks associated with consuming energy drinks and what steps the NCAA has taken to limit the presence of marketing for these products at NCAA sponsored events. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in responding to this request.  Should you have any questions, please call on any one of us or have your staff contact Dr. Binta Beard in Sen. Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152, Mr. Alex Chasick in Sen. Blumenthal’s office at 202-224-2823, and Dr. Avenel Joseph in Rep. Markey’s office at 202-225-2836.

Sincerely,


Richard Blumenthal
Richard J.  Durbin                                              
Edward J. Markey




February 21, 2013

Bob Gardner
Executive Director           
National Federation of State High School Associations
PO Box 690
Indianapolis, IN 46206

Dear President Gardner:

We write to inquire about actions the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is taking or contemplating to educate student-athletes and school athletic departments about the potential health risks posed by energy drinks for young people and to limit the presence of energy drinks at high school athletics events.

Energy drinks with names like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle, and AMP frequently target young people with claims to increase energy, attention, stamina, and physical performance. At some high school sporting events energy drinks are featured on scoreboards.  Another example is the practice of outstanding student athletes at some high schools being awarded the “Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game.”  As a part of this honor, photos of these athletes are taken with a pack of Monster Energy in each hand.  The targeted marketing of young people appears to be working, with estimates of 30 to 50 percent of adolescents reporting consumption of energy drinks.

Student-athletes who consume energy drinks before, during, or after physical activity are exposed to a high dose of caffeine and other ingredients in a short window of time.  Yet, according to a recent article in Pediatrics in Review, an official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, many of the claims made by energy drink companies lack sufficient scientific evidence.  In fact, the piece states that, “cardiovascular effects as a result of heavy caffeine use can be a significant source of morbidity in athletes,” and, ”given the unknown levels of caffeine and other poorly studied additives, there is significant risk associated with energy drink consumption that may outweigh the benefits in the adolescent consumer.”  Other reports have pointed out that the ingredients found in these drinks can cause dehydration, irregular heartbeat, nausea, arrhythmia, and in some cases even death. 

As a national leader in interscholastic sports and activities that help student-athletes, the NFHS can educate students, schools, and athletic departments about the potential health risks posed to young people by consuming energy drinks.  Further, the NFHS can play a meaningful role in limiting the marketing of energy drinks to student-athletes at school sponsored events.  We look forward to learning about what actions the NFHS is considering to ensure student-athletes and schools are educated about the possible health risks associated with consuming energy drinks and what steps the NFHS has taken to limit the presence of marketing for these products at high school athletics events. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in responding to this request.  Should you have any questions, please call on any one of us or have your staff contact Dr. Binta Beard in Sen. Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152, Mr. Alex Chasick in Sen. Blumenthal’s office at 202-224-2823, and Dr. Avenel Joseph in Rep. Markey’s office at 202-225-2836.


Sincerely,


Richard Blumenthal
Richard J.  Durbin                                              
Edward J. Markey

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