Many people reach for a cup of coffee or an energy drink when they are feeling tired to get that much needed boost. However, while they certainly do get you over that slump, energy drinks may actually be doing you a lot more harm than good.
What is an energy drink?
An energy drink is a non-alcoholic beverage that, among other ingredients, contains caffeine and sugar – this is where your energy and improved performance comes from. However, while not all energy drinks contain caffeine, you should look out for the ingredient guarana, a Brazilian plant that contains twice the concentration of caffeine as a coffee bean.
Before we go further, it is important not to confuse energy drinks with ‘sports’ or ‘isotonic’ drinks as these products "have distinctly differing functions and composition", according to Safefood Ireland's A Review of the Health Effects of Stimulant Drinks Final Report.
Sports drinks are there for "maintenance of fluid balance and electrolyte concentration" and "do not normally contain the principal ingredients of stimulant drinks."
What are the risks?
According to an international study led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, energy drinks can actually cause sudden cardiac deaths in healthy people as they can easily aggravate underlying heart issues. “For persons with underlying heart diseases, the risk of triggering sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) or other arrhythmias can be significant”, as reported in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
But that isn’t the only risk.
Consuming too many caffeine-containing drinks can cause the following:
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Feelings of nervousness
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
So what can you, as a parent, do?
Too much of one thing is never good so do limit your own consumption and that of your teenager, and always be aware of how much caffeine is contained within any one product
What are the recommendations?
Following their research, Safefood Ireland The Committee have issued the following recommendations:
- Changes to the labelling regulations requiring drink products with caffeine contents greater than 150 mg.l-1 to be labelled ‘high caffeine content’ and the amount of caffeine present be given.
- Stimulant drinks should be labelled with an indication that they are unsuitable for children (under 16 years of age), pregnant women and individuals sensitive to caffeine.