Energy drinks: the pick-me-up that’s bad for your health

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elisanth / 123RF Stock Photo
elisanth / 123RF Stock Photo

Leading health experts are urging students to avoid using energy drinks to fuel study sessions and exams as some products deliver an enormous 21 teaspoons of sugar and as much caffeine as two and a half espresso shots.

The 13 health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink, among them the Australian Dental Association (ADA), warn that energy drinks can leave students struggling to concentrate when they need to most, and regular consumption can lead to weight gain and obesity, increasing your risk of heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

ADA’s Oral Health Committee chair, Dr Peter Alldritt, said energy drinks are also a major contributing factor to tooth decay and tooth erosion.

“Sipping slowly and constantly on energy drinks during a study session is a disaster for teeth. With every sip, you are exposing your teeth to another attack of acid and sugar—this is a recipe for tooth damage.”

Energy drinks are growing in popularity, with sales of energy drinks in Australia and New Zealand increasing from 34.5 million litres in 2001 to 155.6 million litres in 2010. Energy drink sales have risen by an average of 6.7 per cent a year since 2010.

Rethink Sugary Drink is concerned about the rise of energy drinks as brands target young people, in particular, with clever marketing tactics.

“We’ve seen enormous growth in the energy drinks market in the past few years with new brands, flavours and larger sizes now available and just like other types of sugary drinks, energy drinks are heavily marketed as the ideal drink of choice for young Australians,” said Cancer Council Australia’s Public Health Committee chair, Craig Sinclair.

“In order to counter this relentless marketing by the beverage industry, we need a public education campaign supported by the Australian government to highlight the health impacts of sugary drinks, and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption.”

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