Energy drink ban?

There is not enough scientific evidence to justify a ban

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Energy drinks and young people

Consumption of energy drinks by young people is on the rise. Specialist Paediatric Eating Disorder Dietitian, Annabel Gipp, looks at the possible reasons for this and the associated effects on adolescent health.

Energy drinks appear frequently in headlines and news stories, mostly in a negative light. A Google search reveals some of these headlines such as ‘The life threatening impacts of energy drinks’ and ‘Teen dies after ONE can of energy drink’. However, these drinks are becoming increasingly popular with young people. So are these products really that dangerous? And if they are, why are they so widely available to young people?

What are energy drinks?

An energy drink derives its energy from glucose but can also include added ingredients to help ‘boost energy’ including caffeine, taurine and ginseng and typically contain a minimum of 150mg/L of caffeine (1,2 see references under this article). ‘Zero’ or ‘Diet’ versions of energy drinks are also available, using sweeteners to reduce the calorie content, but maintaining high levels of caffeine and other stimulants. In 2014, Red Bull was the most popular energy drink occupying 25% of the market value, followed by own-brand products at 12%, Monster at 10% and Relentless at 5% (3).

Energy drinks are marketed to improve concentration and to reduce tiredness, through providing energy, caffeine, and other ingredients which aid with fatigue or with energy metabolism, including vitamins and flavourings.

Consumption

Whilst the overall consumption of soft drinks has fallen in recent years, energy drinks have increased consistently since 2006, with a 155% increase in sales. This equates to 600 million litres sold in 2014 and those aged 10-14 years are expected to increase consumption by 11% from 2014-2019 (2). In the UK, increased energy drink consumption can be linked with being male, an older adolescent, having special educational needs and being eligible for free school meals (4).

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