Energy drinks

They're the drink of choice for many children but are they suitable?
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  • Updated:9 Jan 2005

02.Caffeine concerns

  • Caffeine’s OK for adults in moderate amounts: four or five average-strength cups of coffee or their equivalent a day won’t harm most people (300mg). But it’s a stimulant and has measurable effects even at very low ‘doses’.
  • Very high levels (that’s 1000 mg a day — equivalent to 11–12 cups of strong coffee) can be harmful. Research has shown links between heavy use of caffeine and osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heartburn, ulcers, severe insomnia and infertility.
  • The effects of caffeine differ from person to person, depending on age, body size and general health.
  • Young children, however, can suffer disturbed sleep patterns, bedwetting and anxiety from the caffeine in just one can of an energy drink.
  • Even five years ago, when sales of energy drinks were less than 20% of what they are now, an Australian survey found that 27% of boys aged 8–12 had consumed high-caffeine energy drinks in the previous two weeks. And some teenagers said they were having up to five cans of energy drink before sporting events.
  • Pregnant women should be wary, as studies have shown that a miscarriage in the first three months is more likely in women who’ve had more than 100 mg of caffeine daily (about two cups of weak coffee).
  • It’s perhaps no coincidence that caffeine has a dark side. It’s a poison created by plants to protect themselves from being eaten. Most animals can’t stand the bitter taste.

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