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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Are energy drinks good for you?

Close to one in three people in Europe consumes energy drinks; 12 percent of them at least four or five times a week. These are some of the conclusions reached by a report commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). More than 52,000 children, young people and adults in 16 EU member states were asked about their consumption. Energy drinks are alcohol-free drinks that contain stimulants like caffeine and usually taurine. Manufacturers claim that their products boost concentration, athletic performance and fitness. To date, however, there’s no scientific proof that this is the case.

Consumption of energy drinks varies widely across the different EU countries. In Cypress it’s 14 percent of all adults, in Germany 30 percent, and in Austria 50 percent. Across the EU, 12 percent were identified as ‘high chronic’ consumers who use energy drinks four or five times a week and drink on average 4.5 litres a month.

Energy drinks an absolute ‘no no’ for children

The caffeine-loaded drinks are extremely popular with adolescents: 68 percent of 10 to 18 year olds drink an energy drink at least once a year. Again there are wide differences, 60 percent in Germany, over 80 percent in the Czech Republic, but only 48 percent in Greece. Around 12 percent of adolescents count as ‘high chronic’ consumers, drinking on average seven litres of energy drinks a month. Then there are the 12 percent who will drink at least a litre during a specific event; in Germany this rises to 17 percent. Even children (18 percent) between 3 and 10 years drink these products, although they are totally unsuitable for this age group. The EFSA calculates that for adolescents on average around 13 percent of total exposure to caffeine is due to these drinks.

Over half of all the energy drink consumers, drank them in combination with alcohol. Many adults (52%) and adolescents (41%) consumed energy drinks in conjunction with sporting activities in the hope of boosting their performance. The EFSA is extremely concerned about this trend. High consumption of energy drinks combined with alcohol, sport and dancing for hours in a disco has even been linked to deaths, although a causal relationship has not yet been established. In genera, people with high blood pressure or heart problems are strongly advised to reduce their consumption of these drinks as a precaution. The products are definitely not suitable for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and anyone who has adverse reactions to caffeine.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de