Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Kids should be kept from energy drinks: foundation

JOHN TUNG WARNING:A foundation official said that long-term intake of caffeine, which is common in the products, can affect children’s intellectual development

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Energy drinks are displayed in a photograph provided by the John Tung Foundation yesterday.

Photo courtesy of the John Tung Foundation

Children and adolescents should rest or drink water instead of energy drinks when they are tired, as long-term or excessive intake of energy drinks can have negative effects on intellectual development, the John Tung Foundation said yesterday.

The foundation published a survey conducted last month on energy drink consumption by those aged 13 to 22 that showed that about 60 percent of respondents have tried energy drinks, but 65 percent of them did not check their ingredients.

Common reasons for consuming energy drinks included for refreshment, to ease fatigue, for the taste, to replenish energy during or after exercise and to improve sports performance, the survey showed.

The foundation conducted another survey in July and last month that examined the ingredients of 24 energy drinks sold at convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

It showed that all 24 contained caffeine, while common ingredients included taurine, legal stimulants such as guarana and B vitamins.

The drinks are commonly carbonated, fruit-flavored and sweetened with sugar or artificial substances such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium or erythritol, it said.

Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉), head of the foundation’s food nutrition section, said that caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant found in coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, guarana, yerba mate and other natural sources, but long-term intake can affect intellectual development.

It can also reduce sleep quality, cause heart palpitations, anxiety and other negative effects in children and teens, Hsu said, adding that Health Canada recommends that adolescents limit caffeine consumption to no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

The American Heart Association recommends that those aged 18 or younger should consume less than 25g of added sugar per day, but the foundation found that 11 of the energy drinks that it surveyed each had more than 25g in one can or bottle, she said.

Excessive intake of added sugar can lead to increased risks of tooth decay, obesity, a weakened immune system, irritability, changes in activity levels, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and other diseases, the foundation said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children and adolescents under 19 years old should not consume energy drinks, while some chain supermarkets and public sports centers in the UK have prohibited the sale of energy drinks to children and teens under 16, the foundation said.

People should drink water and rest — stretch or take a nap — when they feel tired and should also exercise regularly, Hsu said.

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