Energy drink abuse highest among teens

January 19, 2012 By Helena Bogle, ScienceNetwork Western Australia
The study shows the trend of misuse and toxicity appears to be increasing among teenagers; out of the 217 callers who were classified as recreational users, the median age was 17 years. Credit: Tambako

(Medical Xpress) -- A recent study has revealed a dramatic increase in the number of calls to a poisons hotline relating to caffeine toxicity from energy drink consumption.

And according to the research published in , the trend is largely among .

A study, by NSW Poisons Information Centre medical director Dr. Naren Gunja and coauthor Jared Brown, was conducted over a seven year period and found that callers reported 297 exposures to energy drinks, with the annual trend increasing from 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010.

The study shows the trend of misuse and toxicity appears to be increasing among teenagers; out of the 217 callers who were classified as recreational users, the was 17 years.

“Adolescents are unaware of the dangers [of energy drinks] and most people are unaware of the ill effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol,” Dr. Gunja says.

According to the research, popular energy drinks Red Bull and V account for over 97 per cent of energy drinks sales (which is 20 per cent of the total convenience store beverage market) and the number of energy drink units ingested far exceeds recommended maximum levels.

Most energy drinks contain varying amounts of , guarana extract, taurine and ginseng, with additional amino acids, vitamins and carbohydrates.

But Dr. Gunja says adverse reactions and toxicity from high-energy drinks can be attributed to the caffeine content, which is typically around 300mg per can.

Guarana, also contains caffeine (about 40–80mg per extract) but is additional to the listed caffeine content of energy drinks and is not always declared on packaging.

“Consumers are likely to be unaware of the variation in chemical composition and caffeine dosage in energy drinks, and with little or no warnings on products, the potential for overdose remains ever-present.”

The study revealed the most common symptoms included heart palpitations, agitation, tremor and gastrointestinal upset, but there were also signs of serious cardiac or neurological toxicity, such as hallucinations, seizures and cardiac ischaemia.

Dr. Gunja says a major reason behind the increase in reports of caffeine was due to marketing; in 2009, the energy drink industry spent nearly $15 million on marketing in Australia.

“Manufacturers pitch their product to athletes, students and people in professions that require sustained alertness,” the research says.

“Young adults and adolescents are particularly attracted to because of the effective product marketing, peer influence and a lack of knowledge of the potential harmful effects.”

Explore further: Australia experts call for energy drink warnings

Related Stories

Australia experts call for energy drink warnings

January 16, 2012
Researchers in Australia on Monday called for health warnings on caffeine-loaded energy drinks following a spike in the number of people reporting medical problems after drinking them.

Energy and sports drinks not for kids: study

May 31, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a recent study published in Pediatrics, Dr. Holly Benjamin from the American Academy of Pediatrics, urged parents and pediatricians to keep sports drinks and energy drinks away from children and adolescents. ...

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.