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
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.
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.
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