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Lawmakers and health experts have asked the FDA to investigate Prime Energy, an influencer-backed energy drink containing as much caffeine as six cans of Coca-Cola. Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images
  • The Food and Drug Administration is being asked to investigate Prime Energy, a popular energy drink that reportedly contains as much caffeine as six cans of Coke.
  • The caffeine content in Prime energy drinks came under scrutiny after lawmakers and health experts raised concerns about the health dangers, particularly for children and teens.
  • Depending on the level of caffeine, energy drink consumption could increase the risk of negative health effects such as insomnia, digestive issues, and medication interference.
  • Highly caffeinated energy drinks could pose significant risks to people with undiagnosed heart conditions.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being asked to investigate Prime Energy, a wildly popular energy drink backed by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI.

Despite Prime’s widespread popularity, health experts and lawmakers have raised concerns about the safety of the highly-caffeinated beverage, particularly for children and teens.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf,New York Senator Chuck Schumer wrote that Prime energy drinks are “a serious health concern for the kids it so feverishly targets.”

“PRIME is so new that most parents haven’t a clue about it, but it is born from the reels of social media and the enigmatic world of influencers,” Sen. Schumer said.

“Kids see it on their phones or as they scroll, and they actually need it and the problem here is that this product has so much caffeine in it that it puts Red Bull to shame, but unlike Red Bull, this product has one true target market: children under the age of 18, and that is why I am sounding the alarm and asking the FDA to investigate PRIME.”

A single 12-ounce can of Prime Energy reportedly contains 200 milligrams of caffeine (~16.7 mg/oz), roughly the same as six cans of Coca-Cola or two Red Bulls.

That’s between 5–7 times the amount of caffeine as a similar serving of the average soft drink.

Prime Energy has substantially more caffeine than other popular caffeinated drinks.

According to the FDA, a typical carbonated 12 oz soft drink contains 30–40 mg of caffeine. (For ease of comparison, that’s about 2.9 mg/oz.)

An 8 oz cup of green or black tea has 30–50 mg of caffeine (~5mg/oz), while an 8 oz coffee can have 80–100 mg of caffeine (~11.25 mg/oz).

Some of the biggest brand-name energy drinks are in the same ballpark as coffee.

An 8.4 oz can of Red Bull, for instance, has 80 mg of caffeine (~9.5 mg/oz), and a 500 ml can of Monster has 160 mg of caffeine (~9.5 mg/oz). These drinks also contain sugar.

The amount of caffeine in these drinks can be extremely dangerous for some people, especially children with undiagnosed heart conditions.

BirminghamLive reported in May that a child had a “cardiac episode” after consuming a can of Prime and was rushed to the hospital to have their stomach pumped.

This is one example of why many health experts are working to raise awareness of the dangers energy drinks can pose.

Prime energy drinks were launched by YouTube influencers Logan Paul and KSI in 2022. They’ve earned viral status among teen and pre-teen boys and have raised concerns from school officials, parents, health experts, and lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

While the long-term effects of caffeine on children is an area that could benefit from more research, recommendations from experts are pretty clear.

“Pediatricians advise against caffeine for children under 12 and against any use of energy drinks for all children and teens,” said Dr. Tracy Zaslow, a board certified pediatrician and pediatric sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

“They also suggest limiting caffeine to at most 100 mg (about two 12 oz cans of cola) daily for those 12–18 years old. There are concerns about caffeine’s effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. Sleep is essential in young adults and adolescents, and caffeine consumption has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns. There is also risk of physical dependence,” Zaslow continued.

Caffeine’s effects on children are not limited to the purely physical, either.

“Any added and external substance introduced to the system of an adolescent, teenager, or young adult can adversely impact their development emotionally and mentally,” Dr. Neal H. Patel, family medicine physician with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, CA, told Healthline.

Zaslow added that “caffeine can increase anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.”

While some children may tolerate limited amounts of caffeine with limited side effects, the high amounts in energy drinks have various potentially negative outcomes.

Some of the short-term risks of caffeine consumption in children include:

Long-term side effects can include withdrawal symptoms like headaches and agitation.

In very severe and rare cases, death may occur from overconsumption of caffeine,” Jordan Hill, a registered dietitian and certified sports dietetics specialist with Top Nutrition Coaching, told Healthline.

While many adults are able to have a healthy relationship with caffeine, there are some risks involved with consuming too much of it, especially in a single serving.

“The exact threshold for what constitutes ‘too much’ caffeine can vary depending on individual factors such as tolerance, sensitivity, and overall health,” Hill said.

According to Hill, some of the negative effects associated with caffeine include:

  • insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • jitteriness and restlessness
  • digestive issues
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • dehydration
  • dependency and withdrawal symptoms
  • interference with certain medications and health conditions

“Caffeine is the world’s most consumed stimulant. A stimulant does as the name applies: it stimulates the body and the mind,” Patel said.

Still, caffeine has some positive effects, which have led to its global popularity.

Some of those positive effects that adults might experience, according to Patel, include:

These effects, however, can provide a false sense of what’s going on in your body. A perception of heightened alertness is not the same as providing your body with fuel.

“Although the term ‘energy’ can be perceived to imply calories, ‘energy’ drink is a misnomer,” Zaslow explained.

“Energy drinks often contain little fuel (i.e., carbohydrates) but provide an energized sensation when the energy drink is consumed due to the stimulants.”

Health experts say talking to your child can be an important first step toward helping them make healthy choices around caffeine and help them understand the various potential risks that different types of drinks can pose.

“Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks,” Zaslow advised.

“Sports drinks are flavored beverages that often contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes (eg, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), and sometimes vitamins or other nutrients. Energy drinks are beverages that typically contain stimulants, such as caffeine and guarana, with varying amounts of carbohydrate, protein, amino acids, vitamins, sodium, and other minerals,” Zaslow added.

Hill pointed out that individual responses to caffeine can vary, and some people may be more sensitive to its effects than others.

“Paying attention to your own body’s response and adjusting your caffeine consumption accordingly can help you manage potential crashes and ensure a balanced and healthy relationship with caffeine,” he said.

“Everything comes down to moderation, and if one has some of the side effects or thinks has a problem with caffeine, it’s wise to contact your primary care provider,” Patel concluded.

The FDA is being asked to investigate the safety of the caffeine content in Prime Energy, a popular energy marketed to children and teens.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and health experts have sounded the alarm about Prime Energy, warning of the potentially dangerous health effects of highly-caffeinated energy drinks.

Concerned parents can encourage their children to choose electrolyte- and vitamin-infused sports drinks over energy drinks with high contents of caffeine and sugar.