this frightening detail, according to a study by the American Academy of Paediatrics, 73pc of children consume caffeine on a given day. The average serving of an energy drink contains 90mg of caffeine.
However, the range of caffeine between brands is quite large, ranging from 38mg to 160mg. For comparison, an average cup of tea contains 50mg of caffeine and a cup of filtered coffee contains 90mg.
There are many reasons why caffeine shouldn’t be consumed by children and adolescents. Scientists cannot study the consequences and negative outcomes caffeine has on children in a research setting as it wouldn’t be ethical. Therefore there are a significant number of unknowns. It is presumed that the impact it has on them is greater than adults.
A basic reason for this is size. As children weigh less than adults an energy drink would provide their body with more mg of caffeine per kg. Therefore the increases in heart rate and blood pressure are likely to be greater as well as other reactions to excess, such as gut issues and feelings of anxiety. Energy drinks are freely available for children to buy in most supermarkets and shops and are relatively inexpensive.
It is therefore imperative that restrictions on age are put on the purchase of all caffeinated drinks.
WHEN ARE ENERGY DRINKS BEING CONSUMED?
Energy drinks are frequently consumed during exercise and when people are consuming alcohol. A surprising 52pc of adults and 41pc of adolescents revealed they usually consume energy drinks when taking part in sport. The use of energy drinks with exercise is counterproductive. Most short bouts of exercise, especially less than 60 minutes, do not require refuelling. Considering two in every three people are overweight in Ireland, taking in calories while burning calories will minimise the impact extra activity has on waistlines.
Although energy drinks make headlines due to their sugar and caffeine content, it must also be noted that recent research from UCC has found that approximately 43pc of students surveyed reported using energy drinks as a mixer with alcohol. This is a dangerous cocktail. Energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol which can lead to people drinking more than they would have otherwise. The physical and psychological impacts of the two combined are greater than those of individual consumption, leading to heart palpitations, issues with mood and poor sleep. Some may even experience anxiety or panic attacks.
Despite the growing trend in the use of energy drinks, it’s challenging to think of any time when they are warranted or of use to the majority of people.