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Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents - Essay Example

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Effects of Energy Drinks on Children and Adolescents Introduction Energy drinks (EDs) are popular, especially to people who need extra energy to boost them in particularly daunting tasks. Students cramming for exams, athletes who are gearing up for tournaments and sports events and young executives deluged with work are the usual target market of ED manufacturers…
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Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents
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Download file to see previous pages Literature Review Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages containing caffeine, taurine, vitamins, herbal supplements, and sugar or sweeteners, with caffeine as its main active ingredient (Seifert et al 2011: 512). Red Bull was the first ED introduced in the European market in 1987 and later in the 1990s in the United States (Kaminer, 2010: 643). Today, EDs are sold in about 140 countries and are expected to rack up a total of $9 billion in sales for the year 2011. It is estimated that half of the world’s energy market consists of children, adolescents and young adults, which practically means those aged 25 years old and below (Kaminer 2010: 643). EDs are marketed as drinks made from natural ingredients that can boost energy and alertness and improve athletic performance. Recently, however, EDs have figured in health-related issues. Reports claimed that EDs can cause seizures, cardiac arrest, psychiatric symptoms, and obesity (Clauson et al, 2008: 57-58). In Germany, health authorities reported that EDs were discovered to cause liver damage, respiratory disorders and a host of other ailments and even death. Similarly, Irish health authorities have linked EDs to 2 deaths between 1999 and 2005. Caffeine levels of 200 mg and 1622 mg from drinking energy drinks caused jitteriness in a 13-year old and 14 year-old, respectively (Seifert et al 2011: 516-517). Contrary to claims, Clauson et al (2008) contended that the natural contents of EDs such as ginseng and taurine, found to have beneficial effects, are in so small quantities in EDs that they are unlikely to give any therapeutic effect. The increase in energy that drinkers of EDs feel, is due to caffeine rather than due to their taurine and ginseng content (58). Table 1, shows the results of a survey conducted by Malinauskas et al (2007) involving 496 participants gathered from a US college, 51% of them admitted to taking more than one energy drink every month. Asked about the effects of the energy drinks on them, Table 1 shows that the negative symptoms reported increased as the number of energy drinks taken go higher. Discussion EDs may be generally safe, but they pose danger to certain groups such as children, young teens and young adults because of the amount of their caffeine content. Children have less tolerance for caffeine, which is abundant in energy drinks. A child is supposed to consume not more than 100 mg of caffeine daily. In a study, for example, a sample of men and boys were tested for their caffeine tolerance by giving them the same amount of caffeine. Although blood pressure between the two groups was the same, the boys suffered higher heart rates than the men as well as increased motor activity and decreased reaction time (Seifert et al 2011: 519). The negative effects of caffeine on children may be exacerbated when a child is suffering from certain conditions. Ion chanelopathy or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, conditions which are prevalent in children, is worsened with caffeine intake. Similarly, children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), are also in danger of shooting blood pressure and increased heart rate. So too, are children with eating disorders who are at risk of cardiac dysrythmias and intracardiac conduction abnormalities. For those suffering from obesity, EDs are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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