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Energy Drink Health Information Clouded by Biased Research

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Lauren Lopez4 years ago

Accoring to Fox News, an article published in the British Medical Journal has raised concerns about the health risks that energy drinks pose and the lack of research, and quality thereof, available.

Research into Energy Drink Health Risks may be Skewed by Vested Interest

“The public needs to be critical consumers of research, especially research that is funded or quoted by parties with vested interests.” – Dr. Peter Miller, associate professor of psychology at Deakin University in Australia as published by Fox News

  • Studies have provided mixed results on the correlation between energy drinks and alcohol consumption.
  • Some indicated that the blood alcohol levels increase when paired with an energy drink, while other researchers were unable to prove such correlation. 
  • In an article publised in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Peter Miller claims that a large portion of favorable research conducted on energy drink consumption and health have been funded by the very companies that sell the product, such as Red Bull.
  • A spokesperson for Red Bull, Patrice Radden, contends that “Red Bull is funding high-quality research”.
  • In their studies, Red Bull has used a placebo beverage in addition to their product to test its effects, but there is no available evidence that the placebo is free of stimulants.

Energy Drinks Potentially Dangerous when Combined with Alcohol

  • Associate Professor at Northern Kentucky University, Cecile A. Marczinski, has extensively studied alcohol and energy drink consumption and believes that there not enough research available or being conducted.
  • She indicated that, “laboratory studies show there are reasons to think people may be harmed by mixing energy drinks and alcohol”.
  • Stimulation, alertness, and reduced tiredness are some of the effects energy drinks provide, and can cause an individual to be less aware of the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
  • Additionally, energy drink flavor has the potential to mask the alcohol and contribute to lack of awareness of consumption.
Other Issues Facing Energy Drink and Alcohol Research
  • While a UK study has denied the connection between energy drinks and increased alcohol consumption, the study was relatively small and the research group consisted of only 20 people.
  • Other issues with this type of research are ethics. Researchers are limited on how much alcohol and beverage they can allow their study participants to consume, which may not reflect real-world consumption.
  • Marczinski notes about her own research limitations, she is limited to bringing participants to no more than a .08 alcohol level. One solution to this obstacle would be to conduct studies in a setting such as a bar, where people will consume more naturally, rather than in a lab.
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