Clinicians should employ energy drink awareness - study

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Energy drink Caffeine

Clinicians should consider screening energy drink use in their
patients to ensure a greater understanding of the possible impacts
of long-term exposure to the high-dose caffeinated products, new
findings have suggested.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts' Division of Medical Toxicology, reviewed how the products' ingredients are absorbed, digested and then expelled from a body amidst concerns over increased reports of caffeine poisoning. It is hoped that screening could allow greater understanding and more effective legislation over the products in the future, according to the report, published in the journal Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. ​ Of particular concern in the report was the availability of research directly relating to the impact of energy drink consumption. "Clinicians should report all suspected cases of energy drink toxicity to a poison control center,"​ the researchers claimed. Aside from caffeine itself, the study also looked at other caffeine containing ingredients and supplements often present in the beverages as part of its focus. Caffeine presence ​ Head researcher Kavita Babu states in the review that caffeine, believed to be the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world for stimulation, is available in a number of everyday foods and drinks. This includes familiar choices like coffee and tea, which have caffeine content of 56 to 100 mg per 100 millilitres (ml) to 20 to 73 mg per 100 millilitres respectively. Caffeine is even present in cola drinks and chocolate at 9 to 19 mg per 100 ml and 5 to 20mg per 100 grams the study stated. According to the research, the use of caffeine within energy drinks is of particular concern as the current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules allow for a maximum caffeine content in carbonated beverages of 18 mg per 100 ml, yet no restrictions are imposed on energy drinks. "Although their caffeine concentration (in milligrams per milliliter) may be similar to coffee, energy drinks are often packaged in significantly higher volumes, resulting in increased caffeine intake,"​ the report stated. Taking a prominent leading brand of energy drink as an example, the report found that packaging sizes did not always reflect the true content of caffeine in a product. "SoBe No Fear contains 141 mg of caffeine per 16 oz (473 ml) bottle, the equivalent of 1 1/2 cups of brewed coffee, or 4 cans of regular Coca-Cola,​" the researchers added. With growing demand globally for the products, the researchers suggested that there remains a need for more information on the products. The energy drink market is expected to reach $39.2bn in value by 2010, currently led by the US where sales were expected to reach $17bn last year alone, according Global Industry Analysts. Intoxication ​ Researchers said that caffeine intoxication often leads to mild symptoms such as nausea of palpitations, conceding that in most cases a single energy drink serving was not sufficient to lead to severe symptoms. In 2005, the study found that the US Association of Poison Control Centers received 46,000 queries related to concerns over caffeine. Of this number, 2345 people required some form of treatment at health care facilities, the report said. However, the findings suggest said there is no evidence to reflect the true impact energy drink consumption may have had on these figures. Other ingredients ​ There is similar confusion over the use of ingredients like guarana, according to the researchers. Guarana, a naturally derived plant-based stimulant, often used in energy drink formulation is itself a product relatively high in caffeine with a presence of as much as 250mg to just three to five grams of the product used. Nonetheless researchers added that the presence of guarana and herbal ingredients like kola nut, tea, and cocoa do not require caffeine labeling possibly resulting in their emission from the total stimulant content in the beverage. Future research ​ In their conclusions, researchers said that there were a number of key areas that should be focused on to increase awareness of the long term affects of energy drink consumption on children and adolescents. These include the mixture of energy drinks with alcohol and the potential impact of energy drink consumption on obesity. Source: Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine​ doi:10.1016/j.cpem.2007.12.002 "Energy Drinks: The New Eye-Opener For Adolescents"​Authors: Kavita M. Babu, Richard James Church, William Lewander

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