Death By Caffeine

The first time I heard a shortened version of this teen dies from drinking too much caffeine story, I was a bit skeptical. Certainly people die from caffeine overdoses, but generally those occur when people mistakenly or intentionally ingest caffeine in pill or powdered form. Since caffeine is generally considered to be nausea-inducing in high dosages, fatal overdoses from drinking prepared products with caffeine are rare.

But the facts of this case are insane,

Davis Allen Cripe collapsed at a high school in April after drinking a McDonald’s latte, a large Mountain Dew soft drink and an energy drink in just under two hours, Gary Watts said.

. . .

Most energy drinks contain a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar, the AAP says.

Davis may have consumed about 470mg of caffeine in just under two hours, based on statistics from the website

It says a McDonald’s latte has 142mg of caffeine, a 570ml (20oz) Mountain Dew has 90mg, and a 450ml (16oz) energy drink can have as much as 240mg.

If you go look at claims about safe caffeine usage, generally you’ll find credible authorities arguing that adults can consume about 400mg per day with no ill effects. Consuming more than 400mg per day is sometimes associated with people feeling jittery, restless or anxious. Actual data on fatal oral doses of caffeine is limited, but some estimates put it at 150 to 200 mg/kg.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to exceed more than 500mg/day–which is essentially what this young man consumed in less than two hours.

One of the things I wish manufacturers would do is more clearly label how much caffeine is in a product–both the mg of caffeine per serving and the total caffeine content. It is absurd to see caffeine-containing drinks, for example that say “30mg per serving” but a single can turns out to have 3 or 4 servings.

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