The mother of a teenager in California claims her son died as a result of consuming two cans of Monster energy drinks every day for three years. 19-year-old Alex Morris went into cardiac arrest and died in a hospital. She is suing the manufacturer and claiming their product killed her child.
“I think first of all you have to look at the parents and say, ‘Who’s supplying this? Where’s the money coming from to buy these drinks?” asks Judy Gamon of Executive Medicine of Texas. “Are we educating not only our kids but are we educating the parents on the dangers of these drinks?
Last year the family of a 14-year-old girl sued the makers of Monster when she died after consuming two cans. In both instances the families claim a factor in their child’s death was the company’s failure to warn about the dangers of energy drinks.
KTRH health expert Joe Galati says, “When you look at the different beverages and look at the servings per can, many times its two or three servings. So you look at the caffeine content and it may seem relatively reasonable compared to a cup of coffee, but you may be drinking a can and getting two-and-a-half or three times the amount of caffeine. The other part is that some people are just much more sensitive to the effect of caffeine on their heart.”
Khristi King, a nutritionist at Texas Children’s Hospital says part of the appeal of energy drinks for teenagers is that the use it as an accessory, kind of like bottled water was for a while. “It’s something they can carry around and look cool with when they are hanging out with friends, something they can buy with their own money, it’s easy to drink because it’s cold so they can chug it. Some of our patients talk about having chugging competitions with energy drinks,” King told KTRH.
Judy Gamon says teens are using energy drinks with increasing frequency for two reasons. One is to get a rush similar to the endorphin rush that comes with a burst of energy. The other is to mask a lack of sleep, a common problem for teens whose body clocks are in flux while there is so much technology available as distractions.
As for the 19-year-old who died after consuming two cans of Monster energy drink every day for three years, Dr. Galati says, “You have to look at the rationale behind drinking that much and I don’t think the company recommends drinking two-to-three cans every day for three years. You need some form of personal responsibility for what you consume and put into your body.”