ER visits tied to energy drinks double since 2007

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The FDA said it was considering the findings and pressing for more details as it undertakes a broad review of the safety of energy drinks and related ingredients this spring.

“We will examine this additional information … as a part of our ongoing investigation into potential safety issues surrounding the use of energy-drink products,” FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said in a statement.

Beverage manufacturers fired back at the survey, saying the statistics were misleading and taken out of context.

“This report does not share information about the overall health of those who may have consumed energy drinks, or what symptoms brought them to the ER in the first place,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. “There is no basis by which to understand the overall caffeine intake of any of these individuals _ from all sources.”

Energy drinks remain a small part of the carbonated soft drinks market, representing only 3.3 percent of sales volume, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest. Even as soda consumption has flagged in recent years, energy drinks sales are growing rapidly.

In 2011, sales volume for energy drinks rose by almost 17 percent, with the top three companies _ Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar _ each logging double-digit gains, Beverage Digest found. The drinks are often marketed at sporting events that are popular among younger people such as surfing and skateboarding.

From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which data was available, people from 18 to 25 were the most common age group seeking emergency treatment for energy drink-related reactions, the report found.

“We were really concerned to find that in four years the number of emergency department visits almost doubled, and these drinks are largely marketed to younger people,” said Al Woodward, a senior statistical analyst with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration who worked on the report.

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Follow Garance Burke on Twitter at http://twitter.com/garanceburke

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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