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Caffeine Fuels Most Energy Drinks

Researchers Call for Clearer Labeling of Caffeine Content

Caffeine and Health continued...

Dietitian Cynthia Sass, RD, says caffeine's effect on the body varies from person to person, and that is another reason why clear labeling is needed.

"Some people can have a really strong cup of coffee and go right to sleep and other people get that jittery, nervous, overstimulated feeling from the same amount of caffeine," she says.

Knowing how much caffeine is in a particular product could help people make better decisions about whether or not to consume it, she says.

She adds that just as with other stimulants, using caffeine to combat fatigue may make you feel better temporarily, but you pay for it later.

"When you are fatigued your body needs sleep and you aren't going to function well until you get it," she says. "Using a stimulant like caffeine is a temporary band-aid to the problem."

Labeling Caffeine Content

While the FDA requires commercial beverage manufacturers to list the presence of caffeine on their labels, it doesn't require them to list how much caffeine a product contains.

That should change, Goldberger says.

"We think these beverages should be clearly labeled with the caffeine content listed just as other nutrients are listed," he says.

Johns Hopkins professor of behavioral biology Roland Griffiths, PhD, agrees. Griffiths has been studying the effect of caffeine on the body for many years, and he says the stimulant is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world.

Griffiths says energy drink consumers are being misled by advertising for the products.

"The ads give people the idea that they are getting a cocktail of various ingredients fine-tuned to synergistically enhance energy," he says. "As far as I can tell, this is bogus. The effects of these drinks are largely due to the presence of added caffeine, and the magnitude of the effect is completely caffeine-dose dependent."

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