While they are marketed as a mental and physical performance booster, what are they really doing to you?
In the refrigerators of many supermarkets and convenience stores, you’re sure to see a range of brightly coloured cans and bottles, promising to give you that much needed “lift” to get through the day. While those claims might be valid, at least in providing you with a short-term sugar or caffeine high, the dangers of energy drinks and soft drinks when consumed in high quantities on a regular basis, may be far-reaching.
A literature review carried out by Food Standards Australia New Zealand in 2000, determined that approximately three micrograms of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight, per day, could increase the anxiety levels of children aged between five and 12. This level of caffeine can be found in just two cans of cola, or three cups of instant coffee.
While there is no “acceptable” daily intake for caffeine in Australia, there have been numerous studies conducted that suggest soft drink consumption is associated with mental health problems in adolescents, such as hyperactivity, conduct problems, suicidal behaviours and psychological distress.
A 2010 study on soft drink consumption and mental health problems among adults in Australia also stated that those who consumed more than half a litre of soft drink per day had around a 60 percent greater chance of developing psychological distress, stress-related problems, suicidal thoughts, and depression, than those who didn’t drink them at all. While it can be hard to pinpoint the exact ingredient, it is thought that caffeine, preservatives, sugar, flavouring and colour, all play a part.
According to a 2011 study on the health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults, 30 to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks. Because of findings such as these, several countries have imposed bans and restrictions on energy drink sales, especially after reported incidences of adverse side effects in children, adolescents, and young adults. Of close to 5,500 caffeine overdose patients in the United States, nearly half were under the age of 19.
However, it’s not just young adults suffering at the hands of energy drinks. A study conducted in 2013 by Dr. Jonas Dörner from the University of Bonn in Germany showed that an energy drink containing 400 mg of taurine and 32 mg of caffeine caused increased peak strain, and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle.
These studies, and others like it, show that energy drinks and soft drinks are more than just bad for our teeth. They can have a severe impact on both our physical and mental health. If you think energy drinks may be affecting your health, be sure to mention it to your doctor.