Energy drinks ‘increase the risk of mental health problems’

Saturday 8th March , 2014 7:09 am

energy drinksEnergy drinks can lead to mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse in teenagers, researchers have warned.

Their findings have been published just a day after it emerged a teenager’s heart stopped three times after downing 10 Jagerbombs mixed with Red Bull.

Jayde Dinsdale, 18, was drinking the Jagermeister spirit and energy drink shooter, which cost £2.20 for two, on a night out with friends, in Yeovil, Somerset.

But as the alcohol wore off, the high levels of caffeine in her system took control of her heart rate – causing it to accelerate dangerously out of control, medics have since said.

She suffered three heart attacks and temporarily ‘died’ on her bathroom floor after she downed ten high-caffeine Jagerbombs on a ‘two-for-one’ promotion night.

The new research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that students prone to depression – and those who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol – are more likely to consume energy drinks.

Among the 8,210 high school students surveyed, nearly two thirds reported using energy drinks at least once in the past year, with more than one in five consuming them once or more per month.

And worryingly, it was the younger high school students who were more likely to consume energy drinks than older ones.

Last month researchers at the University of Michigan reported that teenagers who drink energy drinks are much more likely to also drink alcohol and use drugs. They are also more likely to start smoking.

They suggested this could be because  teenagers who are ‘sensation-seekers’ or ‘risk orientated’ are more likely to drink energy drinks.

In turn, having these character traits means they are also more likely to experiment with other substances.

Energy drinks have been associated with a number of negative health effects, including cardiovascular symptoms, sleep impairment and nervousness and nausea. The side effects are caused by the beverages’ high concentration of caffeine.

Study author Dr Sunday Azagba said: ‘Marketing campaigns appear designed to entice youth and young adults. It’s a dangerous combination, especially for those at an increased risk for substance abuse.’

The researchers from the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University in Canada, are calling for limits on teens’ access to the drinks and reduction in the amount of the caffeine in each can.

Dr Azagba said: ‘The trends we are seeing are more than cause for concern, particularly because of the high rate of consumption among teenagers.

‘These drinks appeal to young people because of their temporary benefits like increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical energy.’

In recent years energy drink sales have skyrocketed, with sales predicted to reach $20 billion in 2013 in the United States alone.

Dr Azagba said: ‘In our opinion, at the very least steps should be taken to limit teens’ access to energy drinks.’

She added there was also a need to increase public awareness and education about the potential harms of these drinks and to minimise the amount of caffeine available in each drink.

‘This won’t eliminate the problem entirely, but steps like these can help mitigate harm that appears to be associated with consumption of these drinks.

‘This is something we need to take seriously. Change won’t happen without a concerted effort.

The study was based on data from the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey, consisting of a representative sample of junior and senior high school students from three provinces in Atlantic Canada

Source: Daily Mail