DRINKS

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - FOOD MATTERS -

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.

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