Energy drinks

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are fizzy drinks that are high in caffeine, as well as generally being high in sugar and ingredients like guarana and ginseng, which also have stimulant properties.

Some larger cans contain as much caffeine as two strong cups of coffee, and as much sugar as six doughnuts. There are some low or no-sugar versions, but they still contain caffeine and other stimulants.

Energy drinks are often confused with sports or isotonic drinks, which tend not to contain as much caffeine but are generally high in sugar.

What do we know about them?

  • The UK has the second-highest energy drink sales per head in the world.
  • A survey across 16 countries (including the UK) found that consumption was highest amongst adolescents aged between 10 – 18 years.
  • Adolescents in the UK consume more energy drinks on average than in other EU countries.
  • Youth energy drink consumers are more likely to have unhealthy diets and experience hyperactivity and a range of other health effects.
  • Links have been found between children’s consumption of energy drinks and health complaints such as headaches, stomach aches, tooth decay, and sleeping problems.
  • Commonly occurring symptoms include:
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Feeling jittery/on edge
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Palpitations
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Headache

Too much sugar is harmful to your health!

What are free sugars?

Free sugars are those added to food such as sucrose, table sugar, glucose, or those naturally present in such things as honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit juices, but exclude lactose in milk and milk products as well as those sugars contained in fruit that is still intact (not juiced).

It is recommended by SACN* that free sugars account for no more than 5% of your daily energy intake.

This is equivalent to:

  • 19g for children aged 4 to 6
  • 24g for children aged 7 to 10
  • 30g for children 11 years and over

The average amount of sugar contained in one large energy drink can is 15 cubes.

Children should not exceed the recommended maximum intake of sugar.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a plant product that is most commonly found in coffee beans, tea, soft drinks, cocoa, chocolate, and energy drinks.

50g milk chocolate bar = 25mg caffeine

Coffee = up to 140mg of caffeine

Energy drinks = up to 500mg of caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that is addictive and has side effects.

Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the world.

Heavy daily caffeine use may cause side effects such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors