Sen. Rockefeller raises awareness about risks of energy drinks - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Sen. Rockefeller raises awareness about risks of energy drinks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Jay Rockefeller said pediatricians have been raising red flags about the serious health problems energy drinks could pose for children, and questioned the wisdom of manufacturers' marketing their potentially harmful products to young people.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing Wednesday titled, "Energy Drinks: Exploring Concerns about Marketing to Youth." The hearing comes on the heels of a Congressional report issued in April that found several leading energy drink manufacturers are targeting young people with their marketing practices.

"I'm concerned that energy drink companies are aggressively marketing their products to teens on television, and through social media and event sponsorships even as public health experts are raising some serious, disturbing questions about these drinks," Rockefeller said. "With doctors saying that energy drinks pose risks of heart arrhythmia, increased blood pressure, and dehydration--particularly among young people -- I want to explore whether companies are being responsible in the way they market energy drinks."

Witnesses for the hearing included Dr. Marcie Schneider, a pediatrician representing the American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Jennifer Harris, a marketing expert from Yale University's Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity; Dr. William Spencer, a Suffolk County, New York legislator and physician who spearheaded both a County ban on energy drink marketing to youth and the AMA resolution endorsing such a ban; and representatives of energy drink companies Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar.

According to a 2011 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there was a more than tenfold increase between 2005 and 2009 in emergency room visits involving energy drinks. Of these visits, 11% were made by youths aged 12 to 17 and 45% were made by young adults aged 18 to 25. As a result, the American Medical Association at their annual policy meeting in June adopted a resolution calling for a ban on marketing drinks to anyone under the age of 18.

Rockefeller last month wrote letters to the heads of four leading energy drink companies asking for information on their marketing practices ahead of Wednesday's hearing.

Powered by Frankly