Energy drinks may pose risk to public health

Energy drinks may pose risk to public health

Increased consumption of energy drinks may pose risk to public health, especially young people, according to researchers from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe.

Their research was published in the open access journal Frontiers of Public Health.                           

Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that contain vitamins, caffeine and other ingredients like ginseng, taurine, and guarana. They are usually marketed to boost energy and performance.

João Breda, from the WHO Regional Office for Europe, and the research team reviewed research on the health risks of energy drinks.

From a review of the literature, it would appear that concerns in the scientific community and among the public regarding the potential adverse health effects of the increased consumption of energy drinks are broadly valid,” write the authors.

One of the risks of energy drinks is their high caffeine content. Since energy drinks are usually consumed more quickly than other caffeinated drinks like hot coffee, they are more likely to cause caffeine intoxication.

Studies included in the review showed that caffeine intoxication can lead to serious conditions like heart palpitations, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, psychosis, and in rare cases, death.

Research also suggests that adolescents who consume energy drinks are more likely to participate in risky behaviors including substance abuse, sensation seeking, and heavy drinking.

Over 70% of young adults who consume energy drinks mix them with alcohol, according to the European Food Safety Authority. This can be more detrimental than alcohol alone, as it makes harder for people to notice when they are getting drunk.

According to data from the National Poison Data System in the United States, between 2010-2011, 4854 calls were made to poison centers about energy drinks. Almost 40% of these calls were related to mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

As energy drink sales are rarely regulated by age, unlike alcohol and tobacco, and there is a proven potential negative effect on children, there is the potential for a significant public health problem in the future,” the authors conclude.

They make the following suggestions to minimize the potential for harm from energy drinks:

1. Establishing an upper limit for the amount of caffeine allowed in a single serving of any drink in line with available scientific evidence;

2. Regulations to enforce restriction of labeling and sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents;

3. Enforcing standards for responsible marketing to young people by the energy drink industry;

4. Training health care practitioners to be aware of the risks and symptoms of energy drinks consumption;

5. Patients with a history of diet problems and substance abuse, both alone and combined with alcohol, should be screened for the heavy consumption of energy drinks;

6. Educating the public about the risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks consumption;

7. Further research on the potential adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on young people.

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1. “Energy Drinks May Pose Danger to Public Health.” EurekAlert! Frontiers, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

2. “Energy Drink Consumption in Europe: A Review of the Risks, Adverse Health Effects, and Policy Opt...” Frontiers in Public Health. Frontiers in Public Health, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

3. “An Analysis of Energy-drink Toxicity in the National Poison Data System.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

4. “Energy” Drinks Report.” EFSA. European Food Safety Authority, 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

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