Extreme energy drinks stir debate

How healthful are caffeine-laced cans of carbonation with names like Amp?
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Summer vacations are here and teens are already jamming their leisure-time schedules with high-energy work and play. Part of the fun is a refreshing drink at the river or after a hard day of work or sport. Many young people these days are lured by caffeine-heavy, extreme energy drinks with names like Amp, Full Throttle, Monster and the omnipresent Red Bull. But are they the right choice? Alysia Price, 17, a Bear River High School student, said she skips energy drinks on taste alone. She’d rather have water to quench her thirst during a summertime volleyball game like the one she was playing Monday with friends at Auburn’s Recreation Park. “I think it tastes horrible, like black licorice,” Price said. Daniel Miller, conversely, said he loves the taste of his daily Monster energy drink. “I play three varsity sports, wakeboard and snowboard,” Miller said. “I’m active and I need the energy.” But even Miller,16, said he’s watching his caffeine content, noting that on game days for team sports like basketball or soccer, he’ll eschew the run to the Chevron near the school for a can of his Monster. Like other schools, Bear River no longer sells sodas or energy drinks on campus. But Miller noted there are stores nearby that offer a wide variety of caffeine energy drinks. And a Starbucks about 200 yards away is ready with coffee and other beverages. Miller estimated a majority of students drink Starbucks coffees or energy drinks. Tommy Dayton, 16, said he used to quaff energy drinks but stopped because he didn’t like the crash that came after the caffeine buzz faded. “If you drink too many, you don’t feel too good,” Dayton said. “I kind of feel you should make your own energy. I don’t believe in artificial supplements.” Collyn McCarty, 17, said she doesn’t drink them but doesn’t mind energy drinks. “I like the healthy benefits of milk and sodas,” she said. John Wiebelhaus, an Auburn parent, said he doesn’t drink energy beverages and doesn’t let his teenage children drink them either. “They’re just a marketing ploy by soft-drink makers for that age group,” Wiebelhaus said. “But it’s not appropriate for them. I’m sure the kids who drink them feel they’re getting away with something.” Adolescents knocking back energy drinks and plugged into an electronic lifestyle that includes TVs, cell phones, computers and texting may be losing out the next day, says a new study published in Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study found that adolescents consuming caffeinated beverages and multi-tasking on different forms of technology late into the night had their ability to stay alert and fully functional throughout the day impaired by excessive daytime sleepiness. One answer is to reach for water or other uncaffeinated drinks. Another option local drink distributors now offer to balance energy drink buzz is a new beverage called “drank.” “Drank” is positioning itself as the first extreme relaxation drink to hit the market, using a combination of melatonin, valerian root and rose hips. Videos by Lil’ Wayne, The Pussy Cat Dolls and Ludacris have already featured the grape-flavored relaxer and Auburn’s Mussetter Distributing has just entered into an agreement to bring it to six counties in Northern California. “We are very selective of the products we take on,” Jason Mussetter, general manager of Mussetter Distributing said in a news statement. “But after watching drank develop a massive consumer base in other markets throughout the country, we knew we had found a winner.” Like the energy drinks that now flood the market, consumers will be the ultimate judges of drank or any other drink’s success. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at