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Excessive consumption of energy drinks increases the health risk of teenagers
Energy drinks usually contain not only enormous amounts of sugar, but also high doses of caffeine. The excessive consumption of such drinks is associated with health problems such as a racing heart or high blood pressure. Children and young people are particularly at risk.
Over two thirds of young people drink energy drinks
Energy drinks have been growing in popularity for years. "Almost 70 percent of all young people drink energy drinks, and one in four of them do more than is healthy," the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia writes on its website. But students and adults also use the caffeinated drinks to increase their performance and ability to concentrate and to drive away tiredness. However, high consumption of such drinks can harm health - especially that of children and teenagers.
Children and adolescents should not consume too much caffeine
As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) writes in a message, caffeinated energy drinks are drunk in large quantities, especially in discotheques, at music and sporting events or during long games on the computer.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), children and adolescents should not consume more than three milligrams (mg) of caffeine per kilogram (kg) of body weight daily.
In a healthy young person with a body weight of around 50 kilograms, this is 150 mg of caffeine. This amount is already exceeded with two commercially available energy drink cans, each with 80 mg caffeine per 250 milliliter (ml).
However, some adolescents drink four cans or more within a few hours on certain occasions. This can result in increased health risks, particularly for the cardiovascular system.
Nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal complaints, rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure may occur.
Adverse effects are exacerbated by additional alcohol consumption
The BfR has now published a statement on the effects on the cardiovascular system caused by caffeinated drinks.
"The ten percent of children and adolescents who consume a liter or more of energy drinks within a few hours can be seen as a high-risk group," explains Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the BfR.
"Many do not know that additional alcohol consumption or strenuous physical activity further increases the undesirable effects of caffeine."
Negative effects on the cardiovascular system
In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks also contain other substances such as taurine, glucuronolactone or inositol, which are used to promote concentration and physical performance.
In high intakes, however, caffeine can have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system.
According to the evaluation by the BfR, "the moderate consumption of energy drinks in healthy adults does not pose any health risk."
However, some who had drunk a liter in the evaluated studies showed moderate to more serious effects: palpitations, shortness of breath, muscle tremors, nausea, anxiety, nervousness as well as changes in the electrocardiogram (heart current curve).
Education needs to be expanded
According to the experts, surveys on drinking behavior show that ten percent of children and adolescents in Germany consume excessive amounts of energy drinks of one liter and more on certain occasions.
"The BfR therefore recommends expanding the information in order to counteract the excessive consumption of energy drinks among children and adolescents," says the statement.
Since 2014, the following notice must appear on energy drink products that contain more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter: “Increased caffeine content. Not recommended for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. "
However, many people continue to underestimate the dangers of energy drinks. This is also shown by the case of a 32-year-old British woman who needed a pacemaker after consuming too much energy. Consumption is particularly problematic among adolescents. Energy drinks cause health problems for every second adolescent.
In addition, the energy drinks contain up to thirteen sugar cubes per can, which, when consumed regularly, increases the risk of tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and other health problems. Cardiologists also warned years ago of possible thickening of the heart wall from the consumption of energy drinks. Overall, a significantly more critical stance towards the stimulating fashion drinks seems urgently needed.
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