Saturday, 7 February 2009

Young people may risk over-caffeination

The growing popularity of energy drinks among 18- to 24-year-olds could have a negative impact on the young people's health, researchers warn.

According to Stéphanie Côté, a nutritionist at the Université de Montréal in Canada, energy drinks are 'the coffee of a new generation', used to fuel late night study sessions, all-night parties, and physical activity.

A 2008 report by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimates 1.5 billion cans of the Red Bull energy drink to have been sold in the United States in 2004. Consumption is said to be a growing trend for 18- to 24-year-olds, and younger children also are beginning to consume caffeine-rich drinks before doing physical activity.

But energy drinks are not recommended to either athletes or children under the age of twelve. Furthermore, researchers warn that the strong doses of caffeine found in these drinks can increase hypertension, cause heart palpitations, provoke irritability and anxiety as well as cause headaches and insomnia.

"These [energy] drinks are made up of sugar and caffeine and can have a negative impact on health," Côté said. "Energy drinks don't hydrate the body efficiently because they have too much sugar, and caffeine doesn't necessarily improve physical performance."

"In high quantities it [caffeine] can increase the risks of fatigue and dehydration," she said, noting that Health Canada does not recommend consuming more than two cans of energy drinks per day.

More information is available from the Université de Montréal's press release (in French).

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