More research, regulation needed on energy drinks: study
(Reuters Health) – A new review of the existing evidence suggests that energy drinks may represent a looming public health threat in Europe, especially for kids and young adults.
The main health risks from energy drinks come from very high caffeine levels and a higher likelihood of consuming alcohol and tobacco with the drinks, as well as engaging in other risky behaviors, the study team says in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
There are also ingredients other than caffeine in some of the drinks – such as guarana and taurine – whose effects are so poorly studied it’s hard to say whether they’re safe in large quantities and in children and teens, the authors add.
“The way these beverages are marketed can also sometimes be a challenge given they apparently target young people,” said Joao Breda, who led the study.
Breda is with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, but the paper does not reflect WHO views or policy, he notes.
About 500 new brands of energy drinks were released worldwide in 2006, he and his colleagues write.
In the U.S., sales of energy drinks have increased by about 10 percent per year between 2008 and 2012. A European Food Safety Authority study in 2011 found that 68 percent of adolescents aged 10 to 18 years old, 18 percent of children under age 10 and 30 percent of adults in the European Union were consuming energy drinks.
Breda said his team reviewed existing studies because public health researchers had asked for more concrete and updated information on the issue of energy drinks.
“We then realized very few studies were available and thought it could be a good idea to summarize the scarce and still insufficient evidence available,” he told Reuters Health in an email.
The researchers selected papers that had looked at the adverse effects of energy drinks and found that much of the potential risk comes from the caffeine in the drinks.
In Europe, for example, energy drinks are responsible for 43 percent of the caffeine consumed by kids and 18 percent of the caffeine consumed by teens, according to the 2011
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