The heavy consumption of energy drinks is a relatively recent phenomenon that is of great concern to health players.
Energy drinks today account for a large share of the market in the beverage sector.
Energy drinks are considered natural health products, not food. Consequently, they must be tested (approved) by Health Canada to verify whether they constitute a health risk.
However, to date, only nine energy drinks have been approved by Health Canada and have obtained a natural health product number (NPN). What about the others? While waiting to be tested, non-approved drinks can be sold even though their innocuousness has yet to be verified.
Knowing that these drinks can contain high doses of caffeine, taurine and B vitamins and that they are easily available to young people, we can easily understand how these products might represent a potential risk for this vulnerable population.
Initially, energy drinks were marketed primarily at young men.
Today, young adolescents are more and more drawn to these beverages, which are often sold at discount prices and which boast, in particular, tonic and stimulating properties.
In order to sell their image better, most brands of energy drinks sponsor athletes, sports teams or events associated with extreme sports, such as formula 1 racing, car rallies, motocross competitions and skateboard challenges, not to mention musical or artistic events.
The fact remains, however, that if consumed in excess or by young people, these beverages can pose different health risks.
Caffeine, the main active ingredient in energy drinks, constitutes a potential danger for children and adolescents. Depending on a child’s weight, a single can of energy drink could contain more than the maximum daily intake of caffeine recommended.
Moreover, children and adolescents can, like adults, develop a physical and psychological dependence on caffeine with chronic use. This can bring about withdrawal symptoms when consumption is interrupted.
The quantity of caffeine varies from one energy drink to another and labelling of the total amount of caffeine contained in a product is not mandatory. It is therefore difficult for consumers to determine the amount of caffeine that they absorb through energy drinks and, by the same token, to calculate their total daily intake of caffeine from all sources, including coffee, chocolate, and soft drinks.
« Menaces publiques en vente près de chez vous : boissons énergisantes et comportements risqués »
To know more on this topic, consult the article on pages27 to 29 in the Bulletin de santé publique of the ASPQ.
Dubé P.-A., Plamondon L., Tremblay P.-Y. (2010). Boissons énergisantes : risques liés à la consommation et perspectives de santé publique. Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Consulted at http://www.inspq.qc.ca/publications/notice.asp?E=p&NumPublication=1167
The following is the brief and summary of recommendations presented by the Weight Coalition during its appearance before the Standing Committee on Health of the House of Commons on issues surrounding soft and energy drinks.