Parents should discuss harmful effects of energy drink with kids
Published Friday, November 16, 2012 11:40AM EST
Canadian parents should be talking to their children about the harmful effects of energy drinks. That message from CTV medical expert Dr. Marla Shapiro comes after the U.S. FDA announced an ongoing probe this week into the popular caffeinated drink called 5-hour Energy.
The FDA on Wednesday confirmed that it is investigating the energy-boosting “shot” now sold across North America. The move comes after reports emerged pointing to a connection between the product and 13 deaths over the past four years.
Since 2009, the FDA has received more than 90 reports of adverse reactions from the drink, sold by Living Essentials. These reports ranged from illness to hospitalization, as well as death.
“No link has been proven,” Dr. Shapiro told Canada AM Friday. “But certainly, the more reports you get that suggest exposure … you have to investigate to see whether or not these are linked.”
The news follows last month’s disclosure that the FDA had begun investigating Monster Energy drinks. That decision came after reports emerged potentially linking the product to five deaths in the United States.
Much of the concern over these so-called energy enhancers revolves around the amount of caffeine they include, as well as the full disclosure of this information to consumers.
“One of the biggest issues is the amount of caffeine you are getting,” said Shapiro.
“Caffeine itself is considered a drug,” she added. “In decaf, you get about 5 mg, and in an 8-ounce coffee, anywhere between 90 and 105 mg of caffeine.”
The extra-strength version of 5-hour Energy contains 220 mg of caffeine in a mere two ounces of liquid.
According to Health Canada, 400 mg of caffeine is the recommended daily maximum for consumers.
Symptoms of excess caffeine consumption can include muscle tremors, nausea, headache, higher blood pressure and inattentiveness. According to Shapiro, those effects may vary depending on the body mass, sex and age of an individual, as well as other medications they may be using in conjunction with these drinks.
“Caffeine can make you jittery. It can make you anxious and possible lead to cardiac arrhythmia,” said Shapiro.
Health Canada does requires caffeine content and other ingredients to be listed in products, she added.
“In Canada, compared to the States, we do list caffeine and we do list other ingredients. So you know what’s in the shot you’re getting or what is in an energy drink.”
Living Essentials, the distributor for 5-hour Energy drinks, said in a statement that the product is “not an energy drink,” and added that it “takes report of any potential adverse event tied to our products very seriously. We fully comply with all of our reporting requirements.”
However, the marketing of such energy drinks, particularly to young consumers under the age of 18, remains a concern.
“In Canada, there’s a movement going on now where energy drinks are going to be called foods,” said Shapiro. “This is not considered a food. This is considered a natural health product. That’s how it’s classified.”
Consumer confusion around the classification of these drinks could lead to trouble, according to Shapiro.
“Parents, talk to your kids about what this could potentially do,” she said.