Caffeine is a drug
It may not be breaking news that young people shouldn’t over consume energy drinks.
A new study completed by the University of Waterloo shows more than half of people aged 12 to 24 who consumed energy drinks have experienced adverse health effects.
The study says the drinks, which contain concentrated amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, have seen a dramatic increase in consumption, the effects of which range from anxiety, headaches and insomnia to vomiting, hallucinations and arrhythmias.
Canada should consider an age restriction on the drinks. Currently, Health Canada’s stance is limiting the caffeine allowed in one serving (too bad there are many two for $5 deals out there) and increasing research. Caffeine is labelled as a drug by Health Canada. It should be treated as such by health agencies and schools.
Health Canada’s recommended maximum caffeine intake levels for children are:
– 4 to 6 years: 45mg/ day;
– 7 to 9 years: 62.5mg/day;
– 10 to 12 years: 85mg/day; and
– 13+ years: 2.5mg/kg of body weight.
One can (250ml) of Red Bull, easily the most recognizable brand, has 80mg of caffeine. And don’t forget caffeine is also in other products that a child could eat during the day, like chocolate, pop and ice cream.
With increased consumption, it’s time Health Canada revisits its approach to managing energy drinks.
More education needed
A recent study from the University of Waterloo outlines some of the potential health risks associated with youths consuming energy drinks.
While the side effects – ranging from a fast heart rate to trouble sleeping to nausea to headaches – are all serious, it begs the question, how did the kids drink enough for the side effects to get so far?
There has been much debate about whether an age limit should be set for energy drink purchases, similar to cigarette and alcohol sales.
While restrictions may help with the immediate problem, in the future energy drinks could become even more popular because they’re contraband.
Yes, youths may not connect the consequences of over consumption in the same way adults do, but they should know to stop if they feel sick.
The way to do this is through education. Cable television is riddled with drug and alcohol awareness commercials right now, and don’t get me wrong, that’s important and needed, but why not add some public service announcements about energy drinks?
Instead of jumping straight to age restrictions, why not give youths the benefit of the doubt, provide the necessary information and see if use decreases?
In society today we’re constantly looking for quick and immediate fixes, but sometimes old fashioned education works. And if use doesn’t decrease, that’s when future steps should be evaluated.