Energy Drinks and Their Adverse Health Effects: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Sports Health. 2021 May-Jun;13(3):265-277. doi: 10.1177/1941738120949181. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Context: Energy drinks are the fastest growing product in the beverage industry. However, there is concern regarding potential for adverse effects with use.

Objective: To evaluate the reported adverse effects of energy drink consumption.

Data sources: The electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed were searched for relevant studies from inception to November 2019, and pertinent data were abstracted.

Study selection: Only clinical studies reporting adverse events after energy drink consumption were included.

Study design: Systematic review.

Level of evidence: Level 4.

Data extraction: Data regarding sample size characteristics, energy drink characteristics, comparators, and all adverse events were extracted in duplicate and recorded.

Results: A total of 32 studies and 96,549 individuals were included. Frequently reported adverse events in the pediatric population were insomnia (35.4%), stress (35.4%), and depressive mood (23.1%). Frequently reported adverse events in the adult population were insomnia (24.7%), jitteriness/restlessness/shaking hands (29.8%), and gastrointestinal upset (21.6%). Alcohol mixed with energy drinks significantly reduced the likelihood of sedation effects but increased the likelihood of stimulatory effects. Energy drink consumption significantly increased the odds of insomnia (OR, 5.02; 95% CI, 1.72-14.63) and jitteriness/activeness (OR, 3.52; 95% CI, 1.28-9.67) compared with the control group.

Conclusion: The authors recommend that individuals avoid frequent energy drink consumption (5-7 energy drinks/week) and avoid co-consumption with alcohol; increased regulatory standards should be placed in the sale of energy drinks, particularly with regard to the pediatric population.

Keywords: adverse events; caffeine; energy drink; safety.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Caffeine / adverse effects
  • Depression / etiology
  • Energy Drinks / adverse effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology


  • Caffeine