Boston: Energy drinks can trigger risk-seeking behaviour, as well as cause mental health problems and obesity, say scientists who found that the short-term benefits of such beverages are outweighed by serious health risks.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, also highlights the worrying trend of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.
As energy drink consumption continues to grow worldwide, there is a need to thoroughly examine their advertised benefits, nutritional content and any negative effects on public health.
"We summarise the consequences of energy drink consumption, which include heart, kidney, and dental problems, as well as risk-seeking behaviour and poor mental health," said Josiemer Mattei, assistant professor at the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health in the US.
"The evidence suggests they are harmful to health and should be limited through more stringent regulation by restricting their sales to children and adolescents, as well as setting an evidence-based upper limit on the amount of caffeine," said Mattei.
Most energy drinks consist of similar ingredients - water, sugar, caffeine, certain vitamins, minerals and non- nutritive stimulants such as guarana, taurine and ginseng.
Some can contain up to 100 milligramme caffeine per fluid ounce, eight times more than a regular coffee at 12 milligramme.
A moderate daily caffeine intake of up to 400 milligramme is recommended for adults, but little research exists on tolerable levels for adolescents and children.
The health risks associated with energy drinks are mostly attributed to their high sugar and caffeine levels.
They range from risk-seeking behaviour, such as substance misuse and aggression, mental health problems in the form of anxiety and stress, to increased blood pressure, obesity, kidney damage, fatigue, stomachaches and irritation.
The review also highlights another worrying trend of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Individuals who do this consume more alcohol than if they were drinking alcohol alone.
It is thought energy drinks can mask the signs of alcohol inebriation, enabling an individual to consume more, increasing the likelihood of dehydration and alcohol poisoning.
"Future research should explore the effects of the energy drink constituents we know less about, such as taurine, and consider long-term assessments across a broader range of the population to examine the effects of energy drink consumption over time," Mattei said.
"However, we conclude that there is currently enough evidence to suggest that the negative health consequences of drinking energy drinks outweigh any potential short-term benefits," she said....