Health, fitness and Food

19-year-old dies after downing a high-caffeine drink

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As a 19-year-old dies after downing a high-caffeine drink, the worrying truth about the energy drink craze that’s putting young lives in danger

  • Joshua Merrick’s death was linked to high-caffeine energy drink
  • Gina Weaver, 15, became ill after consuming too much Monster
  • She wasn’t aware of how much caffeine was in them
  • Excessive caffeine consumption in energy drinks had been associated with effects such as ‘seizures, mania, stroke and sudden death’
  • They are marketed to be cool and attractive to young people
  • They like the taste but aren’t aware of the content

By Chloe Lambert

Teenager Joshua Merrick had his whole life ahead of him. The 19-year-old had just finished college and was set to join the Royal Navy. A talented rugby player, he was hugely popular, with one friend describing him as ‘the most loyal person I knew’.

But in January last year, Joshua was found by his father, having died quite suddenly in his sleep. An inquest this week heard the teenager had been drinking a high-caffeine energy drink called Animal Rage to boost his work-outs.

While the verdict was that Joshua died of natural causes, the doctor who conducted toxicology tests on his body said she could not rule out the possibility the drinks contributed to his death.

Source of her symptoms: Gina Weaver, 15, with her mother Jenni, 40, became ill after drinking too much Monster

Source of her symptoms: Gina Weaver, 15, with her mother Jenni, 40, became ill after drinking too much Monster


Josh’s death is the latest in a number of incidents that have been linked to energy drinks, fuelling concerns over these largely unregulated products. Particularly worrying is their popularity among children and teenagers.

With some cans containing 13 teaspoons of sugar and the equivalent in caffeine of two cups of coffee, there is growing alarm over what these drinks are doing to the young body and brain.

Campaigners say legislation is urgently needed to put age limits on the drinks.

This week Josh’s father, Andrew, told how he had been concerned about his son’s love of energy drinks.

‘These products arrive on the market and are available to everyone without any checks being done.’

Often parents have no idea that their children are drinking energy drinks, nor how much caffeine is in them.

Mother of four Jenni Weaver was baffled by her 15-year-old daughter Gina’s mysterious symptoms last year.

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