G Fuel energy drinks big for teen gamers, but are they safe?

Stacey Sager Image
Friday, February 3, 2017
G Fuel energy drinks big for teen gamers, but are they safe?
Stacey Sager reports on the safety of G Fuel energy drinks.

WEST BABYLON, Long Island (WABC) -- You want to talk revolution? Meet the makers of the G Fuel, an energy drink that's getting traction by teen gamers.

The company is running ads like this one on YouTube:

Gamma Labs, based in West Babylon on Long Island, is the company behind the product. CEO Clifford Morgan said the company is the ultimate in "E-sports" culture and clearly good for business.

"So we've doubled the business in the last year, and we doubled it for the year before that as well," said Morgan.

Eyewitness News got a tour of their office space and it has grown six fold in the past eight years.

The reason has to do with marketing. G Fuel is a powdered energy drink that, unlike many others, has no sugar, all natural ingredients, but also has what it bills as an energy complex, promoting a kind of focus for video games.

It has emerged over the past five years, having a sort of synergy with the gaming industry that advertisers can only dream of.

Young gamers like 15-year-old Brett Vaccaro of Sands Point have taken notice.

Vaccaro has been a casual drinker of G Fuel since he was just 13.

"I didn't really think much of it until I saw a couple of YouTubers that I watched actually had it, so I decided to try it," Vaccaro said.

Eyewitness News spoke to Dr. Marcie Schneider, an adolescent physician who has studied the effects of energy drinks.

G Fuel also makes no effort to hide its caffeine content: 150 milligrams per serving, plus the amino acid, taurine.

"It acts on the heart just like caffeine does, so it doesn't tell you how much taurine is in there," Dr. Schneider said.

"So there's nothing wrong with taurine, especially in small amounts. It does work with caffeine to make the caffeine better, but it's not a jittery better, it enhances caffeine because it enhances brain function," Morgan said.

Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that energy drinks "should never be consumed by children or adolescents," because of their stimulant content.

"They're being advertised to, while they're gaming, while they're not in front of their parents, it's almost like a free for all," Dr. Schneider said.

"The criticism is that you are directly marketing to the teens," Eyewitness News Reporter Stacey Sager said.

"Well I could buy television commercials on Nickelodeon, like a lot of my competitors on the Discovery Network or History Channel, but at the end of the day, I think that we're smarter than they are," Morgan said.

Smart marketing is making a splash for sure, but is it right or wrong? Ultimately, that's for parents to decide.