Energy drinks called threat to public health
A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the increasing rate of consumption of energy drinks has caused in increase in health problems, and that this could pose a threat to public health in the future.
Last year, a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2011, from 10,068 visits to 20,783.
Caffeine is the main ingredient in energy drinks, and the one that causes most health concerns. A single can contains as much as 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent to five cups of coffee. Studies included in the team’s review claim that excess caffeine intake can lead to numerous health problems, including hypertension, heart palpitations, nausea and vomiting, psychosis, convulsions and even death.
A major concern is the number of young adults who mix energy drinks with alcohol. One study found that this occurs among 71 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 who consume energy drinks. When people mix energy drinks with alcohol, they may experience a feeling of “wide awake drunkenness,” because the consumption of high amounts of caffeine contained within energy drinks reduces drowsiness without diminishing the effects of alcohol. This may lead to individuals to drink much more alcohol than they should.
Researchers also pointed to studies that showed that mixing energy drinks with alcohol increases smoking, illicit drug use, sexual risk taking and other risky behavior, such as taking advantage of someone sexually or riding with an intoxicated driver. They said that there should be regulations about the marketing of energy drinks toward children and young adults.