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Energy Boosters: America’s Latest Quick Fix for Health

A study shows Americans spend an estimated $3 billion a year on sports drinks, energy boosters and power bars. They can improve your athletic performance, though they don't always taste very good. With so much money at stake, someone was bound to come up with a product with taste. VOA's Joseph Gabriel Aubourg produced the story. It's narrated by Crystal Park.

Walk into any grocery store and you'll find hundreds of products promising to help improve athletic performance.

This consumer says, "A It's fast and easy. B it tastes good. And three it's good for you." Energy Drink Sales went up 55 percent last year. So maybe it's no surprise the folks who sell candy want to get some of the business.

Pete Healy is Vice President of Jelly Belly Candy Co. says, "Our New Product Is 'Sport Beans' and these Jelly Beans enhanced with Vitamin C and E and Electrolytes."

Electrolytes are the key ingredient in sports product such as Gatorade. Jelly Belly calls their new beans a quick burst of energy for fitness minded Consumers For a dollar more, there are Energy Chews Aimed At Truckers and College Students, from the Best Sweet Company.

Richard Tuckers, is the president, remarks, "You want to fish where the fish are. To want to be where the people are in the hottest market and the biggest sales."

Six of these candies have similar results to two cans of an energy drink, for example red bull. This product contains Ginseng, Caffeine, and one other stimulant plus a lot of vitamins.

Tonia Becker Vershaw works for the candy industry, says some candies offer more than sugar, "Americans Love Candy. If you can get Vitamins or some kind of additional benefit from eating the candy in addition to tasting good, I think there is a little less guilt there."

But does anyone really need energy-fortified candy?

This candy consumer is skeptical, "I think its wishful thinking in a way, that you can eat a piece of candy and derive a lot of health benefits Doctors agree and while the energy chews won't hurt an adult in moderation it's important to note they're not recommended for children.

Dr. Bill Roberts is with the University of Minnesota Medical School says good nutrition is better than supplements, "I wouldn't want to see kids using this products. I certainly wouldn't want to see them using Ginseng and extra caffeine from the candies, and I think that kids should get their nutrition from food not from Candy."