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How Harmful Are Energy Drinks For Youths?


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a whopping 68% of adolescents consume energy drinks regularly or semi-regularly. Additionally, in a 2-year longitudinal study, of the nearly 5000 cases called into poison control concerning energy drinks, 51% involved children, many under the age of 6 who accidentally consumed the beverage without realizing what it was.

The Anatomy Of An Energy Drink

Energy drinks contain large doses of caffeine, large amounts of sugar as well as artificial colors and other chemical-based ingredients. Energy drinks also contain B vitamins which can be beneficial, but in large doses can lead to major health complications.

Health Risks for Youths:

  1. Heart health risks – according to Mayo clinic associated cardiologist Anna Svatikova, “In previous research, we found that energy drink consumption increased blood pressure in healthy young adults. We now show that the increases in blood pressure are accompanied by increases in norepinephrine, a stress hormone chemical, and this could predispose an increased risk of cardiac events – even in healthy people.” This can be true for people of any age, especially if they have any undiagnosed underlying cardiac conditions. When energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, the risk for cardiac arrest increases drastically, it is important to monitor what teens are consuming and make them aware of the devastating risks.
  2. Increased anxiety – caffeine can lead to increased anxiety especially those with particular genetic predispositions. Energy drinks may even lead to panic attacks in some people.
  3. Diabetes – because energy drinks are also chock-full of sugar, when young people drink them frequently over a prolonged period of time, it may lead to early development of prediabetes or diabetes, especially in those with a family history of the disease.
  4. Sleep problems – as with excess consumption of any highly caffeinated beverage, drinking too many energy drinks can lead to sleep problems.
  5. Dependence – Energy drinks can be a double whammy when it comes to forming dependence because of the mildly addictive nature of both sugar and caffeine. Children may also enjoy the temporary “energy high” from these ingredients as well before the “crash” hits.
  6. B Vitamin overdose – Rich in B vitamins, energy drinks when taken in excess can cause overdose of harmful B vitamins such as niacin, which can lead to liver or nerve problems.
  7. Concentration and attention issues – Too much caffeine and sugar can cause children and teens to be jittery, nervous and unfocused. This can be a particular problem at school.


What Can be Done?

Some steps governments can take against youth energy drink endangerment include:

  • Educating the public on the dangers of energy drinks, promoting awareness
  • Enforce more responsible marketing that is not tailored to young people
  • Continue research into negative effects of energy drinks and youth
  • Put age restrictions on selling energy drinks

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