Doctors have warned that energy drinks such as Red Bull should be as closely regulated as alcohol, tobacco and prescription medicines.
A study claimed high-caffeine drinks could cause seizures, strokes or even sudden death in children, and those with diabetes or behavioural disorders were most at risk.
Researchers found some beverages claiming to boost energy levels contained three to five times as much caffeine as an eight-ounce fizzy drink.
They said energy drinks, often overused by teenagers targeted in glossy marketing campaigns, frequently contained ingredients that could enhance the effects of caffeine and should be stringently regulated.
“Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit and many ingredients are under-studied and not regulated,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Steven Lipshultz, of the University of Miami’s school of medicine, who co-authored the study, as saying.
“A lot of young people don’t realise what’s in these drinks and the combinations could be serious, even deadly,” Lipshultz added.