Dollars & Sense

Doctors call for limits on ads for energy drinks

Updated: 2013-06-19T23:12:26Z

Bloomberg News

A group representing 225,000 U.S. doctors called for a ban on marketing energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster to youths.

On Tuesday the American Medical Association, in a vote at its annual policy meeting in Chicago, endorsed a policy that called for limiting how the caffeinated beverages are sold to those younger than 18. The group cited studies that link the drinks to heart problems and reports about emergency room visits by children after consuming the drinks.

“Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems,” physician and AMA board member Alexander Ding said in an e-mailed statement. “Banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids.”

Caffeinated energy drinks have been marketed heavily to young people despite possible health risks, the doctors group said in its resolution. The group called for a temporary ban on youth marketing “until such time as the scientific evidence regarding the possible adverse medical affects that stimulant drinks may have on children and adolescents is determined.”

Energy drinks have been under scrutiny after being linked to deaths and hospitalizations. The Food and Drug Administration has looked into whether the drinks can cause harm when consumed in excess or by young people. Members of Congress have called for more clarity on the ingredients and health effects.

“We are disappointed that the American Medical Association passed this resolution,” said Maureen Beach, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, an industry trade group.

Any ban on advertising would have to be legislated or enacted by Congress, state governments or a regulatory agency. The industry could also agree to a voluntary policy limiting marketing.

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