Results of a survey, published in the Journal of Community Health, could refocus the spotlight on energy drinks, currently in the sights of several politicians and lawmakers across the country, although the study offers no comment on safety of the products. The data is purely about usage levels.
“Manufacturers of some energy drinks and dietary supplements are not required to receive FDA pre-approval prior to selling their products to the consumer,” wrote Christopher Hoyte, Donald Albert, and Kennon Heard from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center at the Denver Health and Hospital Authority.
“Furthermore, ingredients found in energy drinks and dietary supplements such as ginseng, multivitamins, taurine, and guarana are not currently regulated by the FDA and thus there is not always quality control in the manufacturing process.”
To determine the proportion of college students currently using energy drinks, supplements, and prescription medications to enhance performance the researchers used a multi-round online questionnaire to collect data from 462 students.
Data showed that 397 student (85.9 %) said they had used energy drinks, dietary supplements, or prescription medications to enhance athletic performance in the last year.
The highest prevalence of use was for energy drinks (80.1 %), followed by dietary supplements (64.1 %) and prescription medications (53.3 %).
Intercollegiate athletes were the highest users (89.4 %), said the researchers, followed by club (88.5 %) and intermural (82.1 %) participants.
“Supplement use is common among athletes in general thus it was not surprising to find a high rate of use in college student-athletes,” wrote Hoyte and his co-workers.
“The risks of supplements as a group are difficult to determine; most ingredients are very safe but as the products are not regulated as pharmaceuticals, there is a potential for toxicity from either a new ingredient or contamination. Many athletes report unknowingly ingesting banned substances in sport supplements.
“The most surprising finding in our study was the high rate of use of prescription medications to enhance athletic performance. These medications can have life-threatening effects, and the risks are increased when they are not used as directed.”
Source: Journal of Community Health
June 2013, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 575-580
“The Use of Energy Drinks, Dietary Supplements, and Prescription Medications by United States College Students to Enhance Athletic Performance”
Authors: C.O. Hoyte, D. Albert, K.J. Heard