Monday, October 19, 2009

Drinks bad for our health?

Article from:

Kids addicted to caffeine in a can

Close Up has reported growing fears children below the age of 14 are able to buy caffeinated energy drinks and shots and that some seem to be getting addicted to them.

There is a already a limit to how much caffeine can be added to drinks, but energy drink manufacturers get around that by calling their shots 'dietary supplements'.

And while the drinks and shots are clearly labelled as not suitable for children, they are most likely to be sold next to the candy and lollipops, making them even more likely to be purchased by young children.

The worry that parents and health nutritionists have is that while a little caffeine is not problematic in a young person's diet; it is the amount that is contained in a single can or shot that gives cause for concern.

Thirteen-year-old Shinei de beer says she is completely addicted to energy drinks like Demon, Mother and Illicit.

She says that just last weekend; she ended up consuming seven cans of energy drinks - that's three and a half litres.

De Beer says if she does not get her caffeine fix for the day, she feels sluggish and slow.

"They (the drinks) make like your heart go faster, I feel really energetic, really friendly when I take energy drinks," says de Beer.

But she says those highs are than mostly followed by terrible lows.

"I hate the lows, that's probably the thing I hate the most about energy drinks&they are really bad."

She says she sometimes drinks so much that she actually feels sick and once fainted.

Health nutritionist Bronwen King says she despises energy drinks, but is even more concerned about the affect it has on children and teens.

King worries that the drinks will lead to rises in cases of obesity, bone deprivation, dehydration and insomnia.

"That teenagers drink these to stay awake, then they cant sleep, then wake up tired and so then reach for another one," says King.

She says a normal sized can has the caffeine equivalent to one-and-a-half cappuccinos.

But a shot in a small bottle is much worse, according to her. In essence, it's an extra cup, she says, the effect of two-and-a-half strongly brewed coffees or five instant coffees in a sugary syrup.

King says such drinks increase the heart pulse and blood pressure.

"Abuse of human rights"

And while the energy drinks may be sold in the same place where a consumer can find the colas and sodas in a grocery or supermarket, energy shots are sold right at the counter, with most retailers having no problem selling them to anyone, never mind if they are young children, as there is no law specifically banning them from doing so.

That was what Anthony Hopkins found out when his seven-year-old son Freddy bought a V Pocket Rocket - equal to two strong cups of coffee - at a Berkeley's cinema in Botany.

Freddy is not able to buy the V Energy drinks, but thought it was his lucky day when he set his eyes on the 'kid-sized' bottle, thinking they were for his age range.

While his dad says he was surprised that his son was able to purchase the energy drink despite being so young, he says he was shocked by the response he got from the cinema chain when he asked them to explain themselves.

"They said it would be an abuse of human rights to not sell Freddy the caffeine shot, that they couldn't distinguish whether Freddy was an adult or not and that it was quite legal what they were doing," says Hopkins.

Close Up tried to get energy drinks companies to come on the show, but none of the companies were willing and all declined to comment on accusations that they are actively targeting kids.

The Food Safety Authority (FSA), which allowed energy shots to be declared health supplements, while not backing from their decision, says they are working on a code of practice.

"We believe energy drinks are, in fact, beverages. They are there to slate the thirst and as such they need to have a maximum caffeine limit that is set by the Food Standards code," says Dr Jeff Allan, from the FSA.

"The shots themselves are dietary supplements, we believe, and they are not intended to be a drink. They are intended to be a mechanism to deliver a supplement, just like a tablet is or a powder is."

Allan says the authority is taking specific action where they believe children are being targeted and they are working with the manufacturers and importers to actually set down guidelines.

Green MP Sue Kedgely says there is a whole generation of young New Zealanders who are being encouraged to get addicted to the caffeinated drinks.

And she says health warnings on the drinks are not enough to stop the drinks and shots being sold to young children.

"Ultimately it is the unethical and unscrupulous nature of these companies themselves who are deliberately targeting young children, children as defined as under-14, they are deliberately targeting with an addictive substance, trying to get them at a young and impressionable age and get them hooked, so surely we should be enforcing what law there is," says Kedgely.

Anthony Hopkins says it would be nice to see companies being responsible with their products.

"These are big companies we are talking about so the cinema chain Berkeley deliberately puts these products beside sweets which is wrong, so do big supermarkets, and I think they should show the way and correct that."


  1. I think that tey are really bad because they contain caffeine which is a drug. They will make your bones weak, get fat, you get thirsty and lose a pack of sleep.


  2. I like energy drinks but they can make people get really sick. I don't think I should stop drinking them because I only drink the energy drinks Demon and Lift Plus. I don't care if I get weak bones.


  3. I think, being a child myself, it isn't good for me or any other child or teenager under 14 to be allowed these drinks. I think it should be a special treat for every now and then occasions.


  4. I don't think they should put the enrgy drinks next to the lollies because the mums and dads could think they are just lollies shaped as V's with the same coloured paint. Shopkeepers should move them to the section they should be in.


  5. These drinks are not suitable for children. I reckon they shouldn't put them by the lollies. They should put them up high in the fridge so the children don't get them.