Energy drinks: too much caffeine for children

Marketed since 2008, energy drinks are very popular. Yet they are not safe for younger health. A quarter of consumers under 25 years.

Energy drinks are on the spot. The new law on financing of Social Security tax those that contain caffeine.

On 1 October 2013, the National Health Safety and Food Agency had, in a report, recommended the consumption of these beverages in children and adolescents.

Yet young people are very fond since, according to the report, 68% of 10-18 years consumed an energy drink at least once a year. This is also the case for 18% of 3-10 years.

It also considers, that 16% of children and 12% of teens are chronic users.

Many complaints are sent to Red Bull, Monster and other Burn. Not only are sugary sodas, which is a known risk factor for obesity; but more importantly, 96% of them contain caffeine and 52% taurine, an amino acid suspected to potentiate the deleterious effects.

The tolerance threshold is reached very quickly in children. "Their body weight is lower than that of an adult, they focus more caffeine for the same amount ingested," says Professor Irene Margaritis, head of the Nutrition unit ANSES.

Energy drinks contain too much caffeine in children

Caffeine is a psychoactive substance to which the child nervous system is very sensitive. Their body gets used very quickly, so much so that side effects appear quickly stopped in consumption.

Thus the ratio of the Anses reports that 11% of 3-10 years and 7% of 11-14 year olds have a consumption that puts them at risk of withdrawal symptoms. This threshold is reached in a child of 35 kg from a half energy drink cans a day.

Other side effects may occur as palpitations or some excitability. According to Professor Margaritis: "In a child of eight, weighing in 25 kg, one can may cause it to exceed the threshold beyond which these symptoms appear. "

However, energy drinks are not the only sources of caffeine in children's lives. Cola soft drinks also contain caffeine, in significant proportions. "It contains lower concentrations than in energy drinks, but quantities are likely to increase nervousness or anxiety, children," says Professor Margaritis.

By comparison, it takes almost three sodas cola to deliver as much caffeine as a can of energy drink.

The effects are cumulative energy drinks with other drinks

Often parents are not aware of the cumulative effects of these beverages. Anses alert on one point: the caffeine intake significantly disrupt sleep and quality of children's sleep, increasing their fatigue with, ultimately, possible impact on educational outcomes.

From there, watch the gear! Early on, children locate that these drinks are, as their name suggests, "energy" and they give them a boost.

Experts worry and point in a risk of developing an addiction to psychoactive substances, years after.

Risky situations among teens

Caffeine increases the risk of dehydration. A fortiori when consumed in a warm atmosphere: disco, live, during a physical effort ...

Under these conditions, the body temperature rises. The body loses water and is no longer able to cool. Blood volume decreases. The heart is sursollicité and could no longer maintain proper pump function.

This can cause tachycardia, chest tightness, high blood pressure ...

In the records of the Anses, two heart ailments occurred in 16 adolescents are attributable to energy drinks. A girl died. "The origin of these accidents is linked to a genetic predisposition to serious ventricular arrhythmias, which concern in France one in 10,000 or one in 1000 depending on the type of arrhythmia," said Irene Margaritis.

We can carry these genetic abnormalities without ever knowing it. But energy drinks put the consumer in a risky situation.

Misconceptions about energy drinks

Some 16% of consumers mix energy drinks with alcohol, 41% drink it while playing sports. Teens are easily fooled by deceptive effects.

  • The energy drink negate the effects of alcohol: "It is a mistake, warns Professor Margaritis. Alcohol causes a decrease of vigilance that is only partly offset by caffeine energy drinks. This can lead adolescents to overestimate its capabilities and increase its excitability. Ultimately, he may be tempted to drink more and put themselves in danger by risk behavior. "In addition, alcohol tends to dehydrate the body ... such as caffeine. By combining the two, we do so increases the risk of accidents to heat and heart attack.
  • Energy drinks improve performance. "It is not so, replies Professor Margaritis. Caffeine is an exciting, which may suggest that we are more effective during physical activity. In reality, its diuretic effects and body temperature are rather against-productive. These drinks are therefore not formulated to meet the needs of athletes. "However, advertising plays a lot on this register, combining energy drinks with extreme sports. Teenagers are very sensitive to these messages. Therefore ANSES recommends better support the promotion of these sodas.