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These highly-caf­feinated bev­er­ages re­main pop­u­lar, de­spite be­ing the sub­ject of health warn­ings. Our di­eti­tian takes a closer look at the in­gre­di­ents and says we’re right to be con­cerned

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - FOOD MATTERS -

WEAR HEAD PRO­TEC­TION

Con­tact sports like rugby, wrestling and MMA can lead to au­ric­u­lar hematoma, or ‘cauliflower ear’ as it is bet­ter known. In par­tic­u­larly se­vere cases, cauliflower ear can lead to tem­po­rary hear­ing loss. The re­peated head trauma of con­tact sports can also cause per­ma­nent hear­ing loss and tin­ni­tus so, for peace of mind, wear head pro­tec­tion.

BOOTS have be­come the lat­est re­tailer to ban the sale of en­ergy drinks to the un­der 16s, but they are still a pop­u­lar choice. In 2012, an EU-wide sur­vey es­ti­mated that 30pc of adults, 68pc of ado­les­cents and 18pc of chil­dren con­sumed en­ergy drinks. The most wor­ry­ing thing, from a health point of view, is the amount of chil­dren con­sum­ing these drinks. With their high sugar and caf­feine they’re com­pletely un­suit­able for young­sters.

SUGAR CON­TENT

It would be plau­si­ble to de­scribe these drinks as liq­uid sugar. To help bring to light just how much sugar they con­tain, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that a tea­spoon of sugar is four grams of sugar. Most of us adults need to be con­sum­ing fewer than 12 tea­spoons of sugar each day, with the aim of get­ting our in­take be­low six tea­spoons of sugar each day. Chil­dren and ado­les­cents need to be con­sum­ing even less than this. En­ergy drinks pro­vide ap­prox­i­mately eight tea­spoons of sugar in a typ­i­cal serv­ing. It would be dif­fi­cult to eat eight tea­spoons of sugar off a spoon, but far eas­ier to drink eight tea­spoons of sugar. Each brand be­ing dif­fer­ent, the amount of sugar they can con­tain ranges from three tea­spoons to a whop­ping 14 tea­spoons per serv­ing. To check the sugar con­tent, look at the nu­tri­tional la­bel on the side of the can or bot­tle. The sugar con­tent of en­ergy drinks is com­pa­ra­ble to other fizzy drinks.

How­ever what makes them more prob­lem­atic is that they are sold in higher vol­umes. Fizzy drinks are of­ten sold as cans con­tain­ing 330ml of fluid while en­ergy drinks come in 250ml and 500ml cans.

Most Ir­ish peo­ple will die from heart dis­ease. The higher a per­son’s in­take of added sugar, the higher the risk of heart dis­ease. Re­search pub­lished in 2014 found a strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween sugar and dy­ing from heart dis­ease. The study fol­lowed peo­ple for 15 years. Those who got 17pc to 21pc of their calo­ries from added sugar had a 38pc higher risk of dy­ing from heart dis­ease com­pared with those who con­sumed 8pc of their calo­ries as added sugar. For some peo­ple, giv­ing up en­ergy drinks could be a mas­sive step in a health­ier di­rec­tion.

CAF­FEINE CON­TENT

Most par­ents and health­care pro­fes­sion­als would be of the opin­ion that caf­feine is for grown-ups as caf­feine is a psy­choac­tive sub­stance. As with other stim­u­lants it can be, and has been, lethal in large doses. De­spite

Diei­et­ti­ti­ti­a­iann, Orla Walsh

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