Maryland lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would prohibit minors from purchasing or possessing energy drinks containing 71 or more milligrams of caffeine (and other ingredients), and also remove these drinks from vending machines.
Pause for applause.
71 milligrams of caffeine (approximately 8-ounces of coffee) is nearly double the recommended limit for minors, but the devil is in the detail of the ‘other,’ often overlooked ingredients, especially Taurine, Guarana and Panax Ginseng, each its own stimulant. Guarana itself contains caffeine that is NOT included in the caffeine count. Net/net, the 71 milligrams listed is inaccurately low. Besides stimulants, these drinks are also high in calories and sugar so could contribute to weight gain.
Equally disturbing is how these products can message/enable unhealthy lifestyle habits in kids. Most of us find our way to caffeine at some point in our lives, which in moderation appears to be safe and benign compared to other chemicals along the substance spectrum, but the aggressive marketing can be TOO effective in luring kids to the appeal of chemical reinforcement. It’s just the wrong message! Helping kids form healthy lifestyle habits requires teaching the difference, providing daily opportunities for healthful activity and monitoring their consumption. Since it can be just as easy for kids to learn to live healthy as unhealthy, we need to err on the side of…healthy!
Some may balk at governmental dictation of product consumption, and others concerned with choosing our battles with kids may wonder if this is one to fight. Yep, this is definitely worth any ensuing power struggle. Here’s to the fuddy-duddy’s getting a win.