GP calls for ban on energy drinks

Jackson Burgess, 15, downs three energy drinks per day.
Jackson Burgess, 15, downs three energy drinks per day. John McCutcheon

A SUNSHINE Coast GP has called for a total ban of caffeinated energy drinks, raising "major concerns'' for the wellbeing of children and teenagers consuming the drinks.

Local Medical Association vice-president Mason Stevenson has called the drinks "dangerous", "vicious" and "unhealthy" after information released by the Poisons Information Centre in Queensland and NSW showed a dramatic increase in medical-related incidents associated with their consumption

It was revealed around 13 calls for help were made to Queensland's poisons hotline in 2010, while 65 calls were made in NSW, with a large proportion of the calls being amongst teenagers.

Dr Stevenson said strict legislative control, or a total ban, was the only way to stop consumption amongst young people.

"There is a range of medical concerns for so-called energy drinks, some include withdrawal, headaches, insomnia and irritability, which can last up to one to three weeks," he said.

"Awareness of these concerns will not eliminate the existence of these drinks in corner stores and supermarkets. We really need as a society to look at a legislation to curb and control energy drink availability.

"These products are dangerous - it would be much simpler to ban them."

The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, with one drink containing almost six times more caffeine than one standard coffee.

And while the Australian Consumers Association has advised that energy drinks are scientifically safe, research shows that children and young people who consume the drink become irritable, anxious and suffer sleep problems.

Alexandra Headland teenager Jackson Burgess said he spends up to $100 a week on the caffeinated energy drink "V", consuming anything from 20 to 30 cans a week.

"They are good and they give you energy and we need energy to skate all day, every day," Jackson, 15, said.

"If you have a 'V' can in the afternoon it can keep you going for another 20 minutes at least."

Jackson admitted he had sleeping problems, but said it was not associated with the drinks.

Topics:  ban energy drinks gp health

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