Everyone’s tried an energy drink, whether it’s trying to writing an essay late at night or to pep yourself up on a night out. Now a new study has revealed that slamming down cans of Monster or Red Bull may be more dangerous than we thought.
Over half of young people who’ve ever had an energy drink have suffered negative side-effects as a result despite consuming less than the advised one-or-two a day, a Canadian study has found.
55% of young people aged between 12 and 24 years old surveyed reported suffering conditions including vomiting, chest pains and even seizures after having the drinks, researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario said.
The drinks famously have caffeine levels, and researchers believe that drinking them with alcohol or while exercising may make them even more dangerous. The risk from drinking them is so high that the researchers have called for them to be banned for sale to young children. Cripes.
Lead author of the study, Professor David Hammond said: “Most risk assessments to date have used coffee as a reference for estimating the health effects of energy drinks, however, it is clear these products pose a greater health risk.
“The health effects from energy [drinks] could be due to different ingredients than coffee, or the ways in which they are consumed, including with alcohol or during physical activity.”
In the study, published in the the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2,055 Canadian youngsters were asked about their consumption of energy drinks.
24.7% of them reported having a fast heart rate after drinking one, while 24.1% said they struggled to sleep. Other side-effects the young people noted was headaches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Not what you want when you’ve got an exam to cram for.
Worryingly, 5% of those surveyed said they sought medical help after having the bevvies, while 3.6 percent reported having chest pains. 0.2% of kids even reported suffering seizures.
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron downing a Red Bull. Credit: PA
Energy drink sales are booming in the UK, having increased by 185% between 2006 and 2015. Yet there’s a growing consensus that they’re unsafe for kids to drink due to their high caffeine content – up to 160mg per can. 105mg is the safe daily limit for 11 year olds.
Celebs like Jamie Oliver are now calling for a ban on kids being able to buy the drinks, and Prof. Hammond agrees that more restrictions are needed.
“At the moment, there are no restrictions on children purchasing energy drinks, and they are marketed at the point-of-sale in grocery stores, as well as advertising that targets children,” Prof. Hammond said.
One retailer seems to have paid attention already – Waitrose is voluntarily banning selling the drinks to kids in all of its stores starting from 5 March.
Simon Moore, the chain’s director of technical and corporate social responsibility, said: ‘As a responsible retailer we want to sell these products in line with the labeling guidance.
“These drinks carry advice stating that they are not recommended for children, so we’re choosing to proactively act on that guidance, particularly given the widespread concerns which have been raised about these drinks when consumed by under 16s.”
So if you’re worried about an exam tomorrow, downing a Monster’s probably not the answer. You’ll probably be better off with a good night’s sleep instead.