Pick-me-up!

School Coun­cil Fed­er­a­tion wants age re­stric­tion put on power drinks

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

The prov­ince’s School Coun­cils Fed­er­a­tion wants to see a ban on the sale of en­ergy drinks to chil­dren un­der 16.

BY DENISE PIKE

THE COM­PASS

The prov­ince’s Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils would like to see a ban on the sale of en­ergy drinks to chil­dren un­der the age of 16. The avail­abil­ity of the cans of pick-me­ups was one of the is­sues raised dur­ing the sev­enth an­nual At­lantic Cau­cus meet­ing of the Home and School/School Coun­cil Fed­er­a­tions in St. John’s, Oct. 17, 18. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Nova Sco­tia, New Brunswick, Prince Ed­ward Is­land and New­found­land and Labrador par­tic­i­pated in the meet­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­er­a­tion vice-pres­i­dent John Smith, the cau­cus felt chil­dren un­der 16 should not be able to pur­chase en­ergy drinks.

“ There are many health risks as­so­ci­ated with en­ergy drinks and they should be reg­u­lated in the same man­ner as buy­ing cigarettes,” says Smith. “No child should be able to just walk into a store and buy and con­sume as many of th­ese drink as they want.”

Boost of en­ergy

En­ergy drinks such as (Red Bull, Im­pulse En­ergy Drink, Dark Dog, Shark, Hype En­ergy, Red Rain, Red Dragon, Di­ablo and YJ Stinger)are meant to sup­ply men­tal and phys­i­cal stim­u­la­tion for a short pe­riod of time. The drinks typ­i­cally con­tain high su­gar and caf­feine lev­els and the prom­ise to greatly boost a per­son’s en­ergy level.

Many peo­ple con­sume the drinks to keep up their en­ergy dur­ing pe­ri­ods of in­tense phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity or drink them af­ter ex­er­cise to quench their thirst, how­ever rather than re-hy­drat­ing their bodies, th­ese drinks may ac­tu­ally lead to de­hy­dra­tion.

En­ergy drinks should not be con­fused with sports drinks such as Ga­torade or Pow­er­ade, which re-hy­drate the body. Th­ese sports drinks also pro­vide sug­ars, which the body burns to cre­ate en­ergy and re­plen­ish elec­trolytes. Elec­trolytes main­tain salt and po­tas­sium bal­ances in the body.

Other health risks as­so­ci­ated with en­ergy drinks in­clude elec­trolyte dis­tur­bances, nau­sea and vom­it­ing, and heart ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion or mix­ing the drinks with al­co­hol can also have se­ri­ous health ef­fects.

“ You’re over­load­ing the body with heavy stim­u­lants and heavy de­pres­sants and that can be an ex­plo­sive com­bi­na­tion,” says Smith. “I’m con­cerned th­ese drinks can also af­fect a child’s abil­ity to learn.”

En­ergy drinks are banned from school prop­erty in this prov­ince and in PEI, how­ever some kids can still buy them at cor­ner stores or bring them to school from home.

Smith says sev­eral par­ents told him they were so wor­ried about the num­ber of en­ergy drinks be­ing sold to kids from a store lo­cated near their child’s school, they con­tacted the owner of the store with their con­cerns.

“ They asked if he would stop sell­ing the en­ergy drinks to kids, but he wouldn’t com­ply,” says Smith. “Un­for­tu­nately un­less there is some reg­u­la­tion in place say­ing it is not only wrong, but il­le­gal, th­ese drinks will con­tinue to be handed out to young kids.”

Max­i­mum caf­feine in­take

For chil­dren age 12 and un­der, Health Canada rec­om­mends a max­i­mum daily caf­feine in­take of no more than 2.5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram of body weight. Based on av­er­age body weights of chil­dren, this means a daily caf­feine in­take of no more than 45 mg for chil­dren aged 4 to 6, 62.5 mg for chil­dren aged 7-9 and 85 mg for chil­dren aged 10-12.

For women of child­bear­ing age, the new rec­om­men­da­tion is a max­i­mum daily caf­feine in­take of no more than 300 mg, while a daily in­take of no more than 400 mg is rec­om­mended for healthy adults.

Ac­cord­ing to a Health Canada anal­y­sis an eight-ounce en­ergy drink con­tains 80 mil­ligrams of caf­feine - the same as a medium cof­fee.

Smith would also like to see changes in how the en­ergy drinks are ad­ver­tised on store shelves.

“ They’re be­ing sold on shelves right along side of cans of pop or right next to the check­out,” he says. “ They’re de­signed to catch the eye and to re­ally en­tice kids. But I’m not sure peo­ple re­al­ize the high amount of caf­feine th­ese drinks con­tain and the dam­age it can do to a child. There has to be some safe­guards put in place to pro­tect kids.”

Deal with the is­sue

Last spring the East­ern School District sent a memo to prin­ci­pals in­form­ing them about en­ergy drinks and sug­gested they in­form par­ents if the drinks are a prob­lem at their schools.

Mean­while Smith says the Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils hopes to part­ner with the pro­vin­cial Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion and the depart­ment of Health, to try and deal with the is­sue.

“Every­one is as con­cerned as we are and every­one feels reg­u­la­tions are needed, but some­times it takes peo­ple and de­part­ments a while to get to­gether and get a plan in place. The wheels of progress are of­ten slow to turn. I’m hop­ing that’s not the case in this sit­u­a­tion.”

dpike@cb­n­com­pass.ca

PICK ME UPS - The New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils wants to ban the sales of en­ergy drinks to chil­dren un­der the age of 16. The or­ga­ni­za­tion wants the drinks to be reg­u­lated in the same man­ner as cigarettes.

DENISE PIKE/THE COM­PASS

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