November 22, 2010
Bigger, better, faster, stronger; that's what one sports energy drink promises. So Albemarle High School athlete Tory Key tried one.
"It was the last period of the day, so I was hoping it would get me hyped for the game we had later. It kind of just ended up making me tired during the game. I don't think it worked," he said.
Key sticks with water and Gatorade these days, but there are still plenty of high school athletes across the Commonwealth who reach for energy drinks for a pre-game boost.
"It's amazing. You can go into a convenience store and now they are marketed right next to the sports drinks. When they first came out they were fairly difficult to find, but now they are everywhere," said Art Weltman, who works in the Exercise Physiology Program at the University of Virginia.
The growing popularity combined with a dangerous list of ingredients has led the Virginia High School League (VHSL) to ban energy drinks from all school practices and games this year.
Experts say too much caffeine can lead to an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, dehydration and feelings of nervousness.
"Energy drinks have a lot of calories and a lot of caffeine. They really aren't designed to enhance athletic performance and there is a lot of concern about the ingredients in them, particularly the amount of caffeine and the amount of sugar you see in an energy drink," Weltman explained.
With the decision, Virginia became the first state to ban energy drinks from public high school athletic functions. However, health officials expect to see other states move toward similar regulations soon.