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Energy drinks can be addicting and dangerous, despite slick marketing campaigns!

Schools warned

of pupils hooked

on energy drinks

by Polly Curtis

The U.K. Guardian

September 3rd, 2008

Children are becoming dependent on energy drinks that have dramatic effects on their concentration and behaviour in schools, drug experts have warned.

Schools are being advised to observe children for signs of agitation which could be a result of excessive caffeine consumption.



It follows reports of pupils drinking large quantities of energy drinks or taking caffeine-based pills.

The warning, from the anti-drugs advisory group Drug Education UK, comes as ministers prepare to unveil new measures tomorrow to improve school dinners and advise parents on children’s packed lunches.

Bob Tait, from Drug Education UK, said:

“There is a growing problem of caffeine abuse in schools. Most schools have a drug education programme to advise kids against illegal drugs, but there is less known about legal highs.”



He made his warning at a conference of school nurses this week, the Nursing Times reported. Tait said:

“Children will drink them on the walk to school, at break and lunch time.

If you have got a child who is worked up on an energy drink, they are going to be agitated during lesson time.”

Energy drinks contain up to 160mg of caffeine per can, while tablets can contain 50mg of caffeine per tablet.

They are said to combat tiredness, improve performance and boost concentration.



Tait singled out Red Bull as a particular problem.

Malcolm Trobe, head of Malmesbury school in Wiltshire until last term and now policy director of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Schools are concerned about the abuse of energy drinks.

“What is clear is students use them at exam time, if they are staying up late and revising or if they’ve got a lot of exams on one day.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said:

“These drinks are often marketed to help pupils through exams.



It means we are teaching children early to have addictions, when any average young person with an average lifestyle does not need an energy drink to make it through the day.”

A Red Bull spokesman said:

“In general, children are more sensitive to caffeine than adults.

This is why we do not recommend

Red Bull to caffeine-sensitive individuals,

including children.”



Red Bull drink
lifts stroke risk:
Australian study

By Rob Taylor

Reuters – Friday, August 15 03:27 am

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Just one can of the popular stimulant energy drink Red Bull can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, even in young people, Australian medical researchers say.

The caffeine-loaded beverage, popular with university students and adrenaline sport fans to give them “wings,” caused the blood to become sticky, a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke.

“One hour after they drank Red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal.

They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease,”

Scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, told the Australian newspaper.

Red Bull Australia spokeswoman Linda Rychter said the report would be assessed by the company’s head office in Austria.



“The study does not show effects which would go beyond that of drinking a cup of coffee.

Therefore, the reported results were to be expected and lie within the normal physiological range,” Rychter told Reuters.

Willoughby and his team tested the cardiovascular systems of 30 young adults one hour before and one hour after consuming one 250ml can of sugar-free Red Bull.

The results showed “normal people develop symptoms normally associated with cardiovascular disease” after consuming the drink,

created in the 1980s by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz based on a similar Thai energy drink.



Red Bull is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans, but the company last year sold 3.5 billion cans in 143 countries.

One can contains 80 mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.

The Austria-based company, whose marketing says “Red Bull gives you wings,”

sponsors Formula 1 race cars and extreme sport events around the world, but warns consumers not to drink more than two cans a day.

Rychter said Red Bull could only have such global sales because health authorities across the world had concluded the drink was safe to consume.

But Willoughby said Red Bull could be deadly when combined with stress or high blood pressure,

impairing proper blood vessel function and possibly lifting the risk of blood clotting.

“If you have any predisposition to cardiovascular disease, I’d think twice about drinking it,” he said.


Energy drinks linked to
risky behavior among teenagers

The International Herald Tribune

by Tara Parker-Pope

May 27th, 2008

Health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teenagers and young adults: the energy drink.

Super-caffeinated energy drinks, with names like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and Amp, have surged in popularity in the past decade. About a third of 12- to 24-year-olds say they regularly down energy drinks, which account for more than $3 billion in annual sales in the United States.

The trend has been the source of growing concern among health researchers and school officials. Around the country, the drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.



In Colorado Springs, several high school students last year became ill after drinking Spike Shooter, a high caffeine drink, prompting the principal to ban the beverages. In March, four middle school students in Broward County, Florida, went to the emergency room with heart palpitations and sweating after drinking the energy beverage Redline.

In Tigard, Oregon, teachers this month sent parents e-mail alerting them that students who brought energy drinks to school were “literally drunk on a caffeine buzz or falling off a caffeine crash.”

New research suggests the drinks are associated with a health issue far more worrisome than the jittery effects of caffeine — risk taking.



In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior.

The study’s author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that

high consumption of energy drinks is associated with “toxic jock” behavior,

a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including

unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn’t mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety.

“It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks,” Miller said.



The American Beverage Association says its members don’t market energy drinks to teenagers.

“The intended audience is adults,” said Craig Stevens, a spokesman. He says the marketing is meant for “people who can actually afford the two or three bucks to buy the products.”

The drinks include a variety of ingredients in different combinations: plant-based stimulants like guarana, herbs like ginkgo and ginseng, sugar, amino acids including taurine as well as vitamins.

But the main active ingredient is caffeine.

Caffeine content varies. A 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 34 to 38 milligrams for the same amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi.



Monster has 120 milligrams and Red Bull has 116. Higher on the spectrum, Spike Shooter contains 428 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces, and Wired X344 contains 258.

Stevens points out that “mainstream” energy drinks often have less caffeine than a cup of coffee. At Starbucks, the caffeine content varies depending on the drink, from 75 milligrams in a 12-ounce cappuccino or latte to as much as 250 milligrams in a 12-ounce brewed coffee.

One concern about the drinks is that because they are served cold, they may be consumed in larger amounts and more quickly than hot coffee drinks, which are sipped.

Another worry is the increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. The addition of caffeine can make alcohol users feel less drunk, but motor coordination and visual reaction time are just as impaired as when they drink alcohol by itself, according to an April 2006 study in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.



“You’re every bit as drunk, you’re just an awake drunk,” said Mary Claire O’Brien, associate professor in the departments of emergency medicine and public health services at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

O’Brien surveyed energy drink and alcohol use among college students at 10 universities in North Carolina. The study, published this month in Academic Emergency Medicine,

showed that students who mixed energy drinks with alcohol

got drunk twice as often as those who consumed alcohol

by itself and were far more likely to be injured or require

medical treatment while drinking.

Energy drink mixers were more likely to be victims or perpetrators of aggressive sexual behavior. The effect remained even after researchers controlled for the amount of alcohol consumed.

Energy drink marketers say they don’t encourage consumers to mix the drinks with alcohol. Michelle Naughton, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, which markets Amp, said,

“We expect consumers to enjoy our products responsibly.


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