Energy drinks are beverages that are often high in sugar and may contain ingredients such as excessive Caffeine, Taurine, Niacin, Inositol, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Ginseng, Guarana and L-Carnitine
They are marketed towards both children and adults to boost energy, promote wakefulness, maintain alertness, and enhance our mood and mental capacities, but these drinks come with consequences.
A recent Australian study showed that 38 per cent of students aged between 12 and 18 consumed energy drinks such as Red Bull and Mother regularly, with most of these students not knowing the short and long term effects these energy drinks can have on their health.
Our childhood and adolescent years are a time of rapid growth and bone development, excessive caffeine, commonly found in energy drinks may interfere with calcium absorption, which can affect our long term bone health.
Obesity is a growing concern for Australian children, with one in every four children classified as obese or overweight.
Energy drinks including caffeinated-flavoured milks, are often full of sugar and other additives that can lead to weight gain, which is why water is always best!
Teenagers that are regularly consuming energy drinks are at higher risk of depressive symptoms, emotional issues and reported a poorer sense of health and well being, when compared to student that did not drink energy drinks.
Plus, those that consumed energy drinks are more likely to engage in risky behaviour such binge drinking, unsafe driving, smoking and disordered eating behaviours.
The exact link is unknown, but may be due to the influence excessive caffeine may have on the child’s developing brain specifically the reward and addiction centre; this could lead to issues with food and drug use in the future.
As a general rule keep caffeine to one coffee or strong cup of tea a day and avoid energy drinks all together in children under 18.
Watch out for withdrawals, even if you are going from one energy drink a day to none, you may feel tired, moody or suffer from headaches for a few days.
Water is always the best drink; try flavouring water with fresh fruit.
- Jessica Ammendolia is an accredited dietitian and nutritionist