April 30, 2013
A new way to get a boost of energy has sparked an investigation into kids' health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into the impact added caffeine may have on children and adolescents.
The probe comes as a new caffeinated gum has hit the market. One piece of Wrigley's Alert Energy Gum includes as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee. Now, the FDA wants to know what that means for young consumers.
"If you feed your children sodas and other things with caffeine in it, then you're going to have them wired out of their minds," said Charlottesville resident Anita McArthur. "I at one point in my life was really consumed with caffeine in the form of sodas. I'd have three or four a day, and it really is addictive."
Arthur no longer consumes caffeine for health reasons, but Albemarle County resident Jake Farrell has to have it.
The high school senior got hooked on the stimulant last year.
"It's gotten to the point now where I have a headache if I don't have any coffee by noon," the 18-year-old said.
Farrell says he is surprised caffeine is not regulated more closely, especially for its youngest consumers.
"You're essentially selling a drug that the government has been like, anyone can have this," said Farrell. "If you bring a baby into a coffee shop and give them an espresso, the worst that will happen is that you are going to get yelled at by someone."
The FDA is already researching the safety of energy drinks after consumers reported illness and death.