The Nanny Statists Have Begun Their War On Energy Drinks

The folks who started the national hysteria that led to the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko being banned by the FDA are at it again, and this time they have non-alcoholic energy drinks in their cross hairs:

Mary Claire O’Brien, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine who helped foment the moral panic that led the FDA to ban Four Loko and three other brands of caffeinated malt beverages last fall, says the fight against demonic drinks is far from over. “These premixed alcoholic energy drinks are only a fraction of the true public health risk,” she and co-author Amelia Arria, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, warn in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association commentary. “Regular (nonalcoholic) energy drinks might pose just as great a threat to individual and public health and safety.”

Here’s O’Brien’s reasoning as to the dangers of energy drinks:

First, caffeine has been clearly associated with adverse health effects in susceptible individuals…. Second, the practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol—which is more widespread than generally recognized—has been linked consistently to drinking high volumes of alcohol per drinking session and subsequent serious alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and driving while intoxicated….Third, regardless of whether energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, recent research suggests that, even after adjustment for potential confounders such as heavier drinking patterns, energy drink use might confer a risk for alcohol dependence and perhaps nonmedical prescription drug use.

I don’t doubt that excessive use of energy drinks is unhealthy. I drank one and, after a couple of hours of heart-pounding jitters, decided they weren’t for me. But we’ve known about the dangers of excessive caffeine use for some time now and if we’re going to ban energy drinks for being too caffeinated then we may as well put Starbucks in our targets too.

As for the link between energy drinks and high alcohol consumption (not to mention abuse of prescription drugs), maybe the sort of person who mixes energy drinks and alcohol is the sort of person who would drink excessively and/or abuse prescription drugs anyway.

Correlation, after all, does not necessarily mean causation.

But logic and facts don’t matter to the nanny statist who is much more concerned with banning things they simply don’t like. They want to use the law to impose their tastes and preferences upon the rest of us.

Being a free country means being free to do unhealthy and/or annoying things. It also means tolerating things other people do that we disapprove of.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • 308T

    “I don’t doubt that excessive use of energy drinks is unhealthy. I drank one and, after a couple of hours of heart-pounding jitters, decided they weren’t for me.”
    EXACTLY! YOU decided they weren’t for you, not the the nannies in congress. Freedom of choice is what this country is suppose to be all about.

    • borborygmi

      The one place that I had heard where these drinks were causing problems was in Iraq. Guys would go on patrol jacked up with a couple cans of Red bull and they couldn’t unwind after they came back.

  • robert108

    What makes you think that parents didn’t want this to protect their kids, port? You really are a monomaniac with your “nanny state” overgeneralization. Maybe it’s good to get this crap off the shelves.

    • Guest

      Although many like to use the “nanny state” characterization a bit too much…this isn’t one of those times.

      Why the hell would we want Congress to dictate the amount of caffeine we can consume in a drink? Should Congress set a daily limit on soda and coffee as well? How about grams of fat and total calories per day? And what about requiring a certain amount of exercise as well?

      These ideas all are all blatantly “nanny statist” in nature. Just because Congress can do something that has a vague “rational basis” doesn’t mean they should do it.

      • yy4u2

        Congress should have used your logic in your last paragraph when they passed Obummercare.

        • Guest

          I would even argue that the individual mandate supposedly authorized through the “commerce clause” isn’t even a question of policy, but instead, of constitutionality.

          The difference between inactivity and activity is more than mere semantics.

          My reading of commerce clause case law has shown a fairly expansive application of that power, but nothing to this extent. I believe the mandate is unconstitutional under commerce clause precedent.

    • Reverendyo

      There is nothing more scary than someone who decides what is best for everyone else. Caffeine is “Excessive” amounts should have been a clue that personal responsibility was needed in this scenario, not setting up a new energy drink ‘czar’ to protect Americans from the evils of excessive caffeine. This is where the conservative movement goes wrong, they do not believe in freedom and personal responsibility.

      • JustRuss

        Are you from the UK? Calling this a conservative movement? Freedom and Personal responsibility are conservative cornerstones in the US. And the administration which is attempting to regulate caffiene drinks and intake is a Progressive one.

    • Kenny

      Maybe the parents should do their jobs instead of expecting the government to do it for them.

  • The Whistler


  • Kevin Flanagan

    They are even hysterical about beverage containers!

    • borborygmi

      Definitely some BS there. If you drink this you will look like an anorexic can. Marketing could backfire.

  • Jimmypop

    coffee should be banned.

    its not safe.

    • flamemeister

      Right. It will be considered dangerous right up to the time it’s found to be beneficial.

      • borborygmi

        like eggs, red wine,

        • flamemeister

          Yeah, somewhere I have a list of nasty diseases to which smokers appear to be completely immune.

    • borborygmi

      Stuff they make at work is. Nasty stuff. Too many scoops/

  • flamemeister

    Anyone who drinks more than one of these things deserves what they get. I had one—tasted like crap and I spent half the day feeling like a golf ball teed off in a tile bathroom.

    • Goon

      I rarely if ever drink one of these things because they screw you up but if someone want to drink them they should be able to.

  • Hoth

    Reagan said that the most terrifying phrase in the english language was “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” I’d like to make a nomination for the second most terrifying phrase. I nominate “It’s for your own good.”

  • borborygmi

    I would think that the free market would take care of these drinks. The people I know that occasionally drink them get nauseated.
    They just can’t do it the old fashioned way with 4 cups truck stop coffee and some white crosses.

  • DopeyDem

    So don’t worry about heroin or methamphetamine or crack cocaine or prescription drugs or marijuana or sniffing glue or sniffing aerosol propellants or a lot of that other stuff thats really not harmful. Go after something that’s completetly legal until now. Oh did I mention cigarettes?…..If you put a shot into an energy drink, who can stop you?

  • sbark

    For the Left to take this step insnt surprising……….its just the next stop along the road after cigarettes, salt, pop in school, seat belts, toys in Happy meals……..

    the real guessing game is what the next target will be………

    always remember: they never stop, there are no borders, no limits, …..there will always be the “next thing”……

  • mikemc1970

    Just what we need, a Department of Energy Drinks (DED). With a thousand or so federal employees, half of which are paper pushing lawyers making up to a hundred grand a year. I guess the energy drink market is a victim of it’s own success, you can’t expect to succeed today without the government trying to horn in.

  • tony_o2

    After they outlaw energy drinks, they should go after Coke. People mix it with alcohol and drink more than they would without it.