Consuming high levels of caffeine can lead to various health concerns that may require emergency medical attention. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration: “Consumption of energy drinks is a rising public health problem because medical and behavioral consequences can result from excessive caffeine intake.” Energy drinks can contain extremely high levels of caffeine, which are not required to be listed on the label. Emergency room visits due to consumption of high-caffeine level energy drinks more than doubled from 2007 to 2011.
The issues associated with consumption of energy drinks can be documented in a Cause Map, or visual root cause analysis. We begin with the impacts to the goals; the safety goal is impacted due to the health risks. Additionally, increased ER visits and media attention to the issue can be considered impacts to various organizations’ goals.
Beginning with the impacts to the goals, asking “Why” questions allows us to uncover the cause-and-effect relationships that lead to these concerns. Consuming high levels of caffeine can lead to health concerns, including dehydration, headaches, and even seizures. Most energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine – equivalent to the caffeine in several cups of coffee – but are not required to list the amount of caffeine on the label. Because some of these beverages are marketed extolling positive health effects, consumers may be unaware of potential risks. Because some energy drinks are sometimes considered beverages and sometimes are considered dietary supplements, regulation is limited.
More attention is being called to this issue, along with calls for more regulation and requiring disclosure of the amounts of caffeine in energy drinks in the hopes that with more information, both to consumers and healthcare professionals, will result in fewer emergency health concerns.
To view the Outline and Cause Map, please click “Download PDF” above. Or click here to read more.