The sales of energy drinks are SURGING along with the controversy over the health effects. More & more adolescents are chugging them but doctors are saying that water is the way to go. Justin Alvey, a pediatrician & associate professor down at the University of Utah School of Medicine estimates 20 to 30% of the adolescents in his practice admit to consuming energy drinks regularly. Some say they drink the beverages to augment their their athletic performance. Most say they chug just to get through the day. Either way, Alvey says "It's a concern". He says that "a safe amount has NOT been established, but we would recommend NOT ever using energy drinks". He adds for everything kids are doing, water is the way to go. He says the biggest worry with energy drinks is that they have been linked to heart problems in those with a predisposition, although such cases are rare. More common, he said, are weight gain, dental issues caused by the caffeine & sugar in the drinks, stomach aches, anxiety, shakiness & sleep problems. The professor says "There's a lot of this stuff that's marketed to kids, but really there is no substitute for good old-fashioned healthy food & lots of water. Energy drinks really have no place for kids." A stimulant, the effects of caffeine on the body vary from person to person, but consuming too much can cause harm. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who consume 500 to 600 milligrams a day could experience rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors & insomnia. And caffeine can have side effects with other medications such as antibiotics, said Barbara Crouch, clinical professor & director of the Utah Poison Control Center. She said the center's hot line has received some calls from parents worried about the caffeine-overdose of a child & adults experiencing increased heart rate after drinking an energy drink. Her primary concern is that the total amount of caffeine & other stimulants in energy drinks remains unknown. She adds that while adults can handle 400 milligrams a day, most adolescents & children can't. "The real issue is knowing how much caffeine is in there," she said. "Parents need to understand that & make decisions about what's appropriate for their kid." Some have called for oversight of energy drinks by the FDA, but Crouch said she would "stop short" of regulation because that could lead to increased standards for a host of other beverages such as coffee & colas. What are your feelings on energy drinks...I would like to hear from you on my Puffman Blog. I'd also like to know how many milligrams of caffeine my friend the Gabby Cabby consumes every day. You'd probably have to measure that in MEGA-grams!