Durbin, doctors to energy drink makers: Stop targeting kids - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Durbin, doctors to energy drink makers: Stop targeting kids

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Monster, Red Bull and other so-called energy drink companies claim they don't market their products to young adolescents, but Senator Dick Durbin and several Chicago physicians accused the makers of doing exactly that. Now, they're pushing for new federal rules and restrictions.

Emergency room doctors and pediatricians from Northwestern and the University of Chicago say energy drinks are causing health problems for a growing number of youngsters.

"We typically see young people in the Emergency Department who think they're about to die. They believe they are about to die, because of what they're feeling," says Dr. David Zich of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "And when I find out that they've drunk three Red Bulls, sometimes I think, "Are you surprised?" But they are, because they have no idea."

Like Dr. Zich, University of Chicago pediatrician Dr. Holly Benjamin said she's seen enough energy-drink-related horror stories. She wants strict new federal rules banning manufacturers from marketing super-saturated drinks with caffeine and other stimulants, including guarana, taurine and ephedra to those under age 18.

"The science is clear," says Dr. Benjamin. "Energy drinks have no place in the diet of children or adolescents."

In a brief response, a lawyer for Monster energy drink said: "Monster stands by its position that we do not market to children."

Critics complain in particular about Monster's Athlete of the Week award, in this case given to a boy who's identified as being 14-years old.

One video online shows what appears to be a pre-teen displaying prowess on a skateboard.

"You can even go to their website and see that energy drink makers sponsor events clearly for children, like the Red Bull High School Tournament, local skateboarding tours, high school surfing competitions," Durbin says.

At Senator Durbin's request, the US Food and Drug Administration is studying the health impact of energy drinks. Some doctors want special attention paid to the impact on youngsters already taking medication, who sometimes exhibit the worst symptoms.

Dr. Zich says that "palpitations, chest pains, shortness of breath, anxiety, tremors, even seizures are commonplace."

Durbin and a senate colleague sent letters to all the leading energy drink makers. They pointed out specific examples of marketing to kids as young as 13 and demanded a written response with steps the companies will take to prevent such marketing in the future.

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