August 29, 2023 – Prime Energy drinks have become all the rage among kids at home and at school, and parents want to know: Are these drinks suitable for my child to drink?
Some parents report that their children’s school does forbidden Prime drinks after reports of children getting sick, with some unverified reports of some children needing to go to hospital after consuming the drinks. The 12 ounce energy drink contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is about the same amount of caffeine as six 12 ounce cans of Coca-Cola (192 milligrams) or two 12 ounce cans of Red Bull (204 milligrams). The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages all children and adolescents from the use of caffeine and other stimulants.
Prime drinks are sold at major retailers, supermarkets and some gas stations and convenience stores. They come in two varieties: an energy booster and a caffeine-free hydration drink.
The Prime drink craze went viral on TikTok after the product’s launch in 2022, with videos of kids and teens raving about the products. More publicity for the drinks came this summer when Prime drinks collaborated with the popular football team Futbol Club Barcelona.
Earlier this summer, the F.D.A said it would review concerns raised by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after raising alarm about the drinks’ potential adverse health effects in a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD.
“One of summer’s most popular status symbols for kids isn’t an outfit or a toy — it’s a drink,” Schumer wrote in July. “But buyers and parents should beware, as it is a serious health risk for the children it is so feverishly targeting.”
Its founders, media personalities and professional boxers Logan Paul and Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji (professionally known as KSI) say the FDA’s involvement is a “false narrative” spread by the media.
“Prime is not under investigation by the FDA,” Paul said in a Fox News interview this month. “The FDA hasn’t even contacted Prime…but the fact is we are a legitimate company. We have nothing to hide and take quality and safety very seriously.”
Later, the FDA released a statement saying the organization would “respond directly to Schumer” after reviewing his concerns.
(WebMD reached out to PRIME’s founders for comment but had not heard back at time of publication.)
Prime Hydration and Prime Energy – What’s the difference?
Prime Hydration and Prime Energy are different types of drinks.
Prime Hydration contains 250 milligrams of BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) – an essential nutrient known for muscle recovery and athletic performance. Along with 200 milligrams of caffeine, Prime Energy contains zinc, antioxidants and electrolytes, but no BCAAs.
Prime Hydration doesn’t contain enough BCAAs to pose a health risk to children, says David Berger, MD, a pediatrician in Tampa, FL. BCAAs are usually safe for children and teens when taken small doses and can actually help high school students involved in sports that require a certain level of strength and muscle development.
The concern about the Prime Hydration product is that it could be a “gateway” that prompts some kids to also try Prime Energy, says Jennifer L. Temple, PhD, professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health Health and Healthcare Professions.
Parents unfamiliar with the different ingredients in the two drinks may be confused by the products and assume they are more similar than they really are, says Temple, who specializes in the effects of caffeine on children.
Keep in mind that it can also be challenging for doctors to pinpoint Prime, or an energy drink containing caffeine, as a major culprit in a sudden, serious illness, she said.
“It’s one of the things that has presented challenges when there have been lawsuits against energy drink companies because the half-life of caffeine is so short that it’s very difficult to definitively tie this to that.”
Children with health problems such as tachycardia, a type of fast heart rate, can become seriously ill after ingesting large amounts of caffeine, Berger said.
If children consume caffeine regularly but have no medical conditions, they may experience mild side effects such as anxiety, jitters and insomnia, he said.