Why Prime and Other Energy Drinks Can be Dangerous – Especially for Kids

ISLAMABAD, June 02 (Online): Dozens of brands in a variety of flavors line store shelves and their wide availability makes them a convenient choice for anyone who feels they may need a quick pick-me-up.

But as popular as these beverages have become, they can also pose significant health risks to adults and children alike due to the high amounts of caffeine they contain — which can vary widely from one brand to another.

How much caffeine constitutes a “high amount?”
To answer that, let’s set a baseline.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source, a typical carbonated 12 oz soft drink contains 30-40 mg of caffeine. (For ease of comparison, that’s about 2.9 mg/oz.)

An 8 oz cup of green or black tea has 30-50 mg of caffeine (~5mg/oz) while an 8 oz coffee can have 80-100 mg of caffeine (~11.25 mg/oz).

Some of the biggest brand-name energy drinks are in the same ballpark as coffee.

An 8.4 oz can of Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine (~9.5 mg/oz), and a 500 ml can of Monster has 160 mg of caffeine (~9.5 mg/oz). These drinks also contain sugar.

However, a newer drink called Prime Energy has substantially more caffeine than its counterparts, coming in at 200 mg in a 12 oz can (~16.7 mg/oz).

That’s between 5-7 times the amount of caffeine as a similar serving of the average soft drink.

Prime Energy, which was launched by popular YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI in 2022, has become particularly popular with teen and pre-teen boys — while raising concerns of school officials, parents, and health experts.

The amount of caffeine in these drinks can be extremely dangerous for some people, especially children who may have an undiagnosed heart condition.

In fact, BirminghamLive recently reported that a child had a “cardiac episode” after consuming a can of Prime Energy and had to be rushed to the hospital to have their stomach pumped.

This is one example of why many health experts are working to raise awareness of the dangers energy drinks can pose.

What happens to your body when you drink caffeine
Dr. Neal H. Patel, family medicine physician with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, told Healthline, “Caffeine is the world’s most consumed stimulant. A stimulant does as the name applies: it stimulates the body and the mind.”

Caffeine does have some positive effects, which has led to its global popularity.

Some of those positive effects that adults might experience, according to Patel, include:
• increased focus
• increased attention
• decreased fatigue
• increases metabolism
• elevated mood

These effects, however, can provide a false sense of what’s going on in your body.

A perception of heightened alertness is not the same as providing your body with fuel.

“Although the term ‘energy’ can be perceived to imply calories, ‘energy’ drink is a misnomer; energy drinks often contain little fuel (i.e. carbohydrates) but provide an energized sensation when the energy drink is consumed due to the stimulants,” explained Dr. Tracy Zaslow, a board-certified pediatrician, and pediatric sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

The negative effects of caffeine on adults

While many adults are able to have a healthy relationship with caffeine, there are some risks involved with consuming too much of it, especially in a single serving.

“The exact threshold for what constitutes ‘too much’ caffeine can vary depending on individual factors such as tolerance, sensitivity, and overall health,” Jordan Hill, a registered dietitian and sports dietetics specialist with Top Nutrition Coaching, told Healthline.

According to Hill, some of the negative effects associated with caffeine include:
• insomnia and sleep disturbances
• jitteriness and restlessness
• digestive issues
• increased heart rate and blood pressure
• dehydration
• dependency and withdrawal symptoms
• interference with certain medications and health conditions

The negative effects caffeine can have on children
While the long-term effects of caffeine on children is an area that could benefit from more research, recommendations from experts are pretty clear.

“Pediatricians advise against caffeine for children under 12 and against any use of energy drinks for all children and teens. They also suggest limiting caffeine to at most 100 mg (about two 12 oz cans of cola) daily for those 12-18 years old,” said Zaslow.
“There are concerns about caffeine’s effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.

Sleep is essential in young adults and adolescents, and caffeine consumption has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns. There is also risk of physical dependence,” Zaslow added.
Caffeine’s effects on children are not limited to the purely physical, either.

“Any added and external substance introduced to the system of an adolescent, teenager, or young adult can adversely impact their development emotionally and mentally,” said Patel.
Zaslow shared with Healthline that, “caffeine can increase anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.”
While some children may tolerate limited amounts of caffeine with limited side effects, the high amounts in energy drinks come with a variety of potentially negative outcomes.

Some of the short-term risks of caffeine consumption in children include:
• anxiety
• dehydration
• diarrhea
• heart palpitations
• high blood pressure
• insomnia
• jitters
• nausea
• restlessness

Long-term side effects can include withdrawal symptoms like headaches and agitation. In very severe and rare cases, death can occur from overconsumption of caffeine,” said Hill.

What can you do to help reduce risks
Health experts say talking to your child can be an important first step toward helping them make healthy choices around caffeine and help them understand the various potential risks that different types of drinks can pose.

“Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks,” advised Zaslow.

“Sports drinks are flavored beverages that often contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes (eg, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), and sometimes vitamins or other nutrients. Energy drinks are beverages that typically contain stimulants, such as caffeine and guarana, with varying amounts of carbohydrate, protein, amino acids, vitamins, sodium, and other minerals,” Zaslow added.

Hill pointed out that individual responses to caffeine can vary, and some people may be more sensitive to its effects than others.

“Paying attention to your own body’s response and adjusting your caffeine consumption accordingly can help you manage potential crashes and ensure a balanced and healthy relationship with caffeine,” he said.

“Everything comes down to moderation and if one has some of the side effects or thinks has a problem with caffeine, it’s wise to contact your primary care provider,” said Patel.