Concern over High-energy Sports Drinks

June 26/Canberra, Australia/Canberra Times -- Young footballers and netballers may be putting their health at risk by consuming potentially fatal doses of caffeine.

A Sports Medicine Australia forum held in Canberra this week outlined a troubling trend involving the increased consumption of energy drinks and caffeine supplements by young people participating in weekend team sport.

Sports Medicine Australia ACT branch executive officer Trish Donoghue said a lot of people consuming the products did not realize caffeine was a drug.

She said anecdotal evidence suggested some people were addicted to a pre-game energy boost and others were succumbing to peer group pressure by consuming the stimulants.

"It was very evident these people don't understand the risk that these things are doing to their health," she said.

"It seems to be an acceptable practice to have one [energy drink] a day ... that seems to be a general theme with generation Y. They don't understand the liver damage it's doing, and the reduction in liver capacity that it's actually causing from this constant use.

"There is an addictive nature that's growing ... and a lot of these things are mainly being introduced by friends saying, 'Have a go at this, this helps me.' That obviously creates problems with peer group pressure."

Donoghue called for more regulation of the energy drink industry.

She said there had been cases of athletes dying after exercising under the influence of energy drinks.

"They still are unregulated. They seem to have been a silent addition. They seem to have snuck in ... they've come in without people realising they can be addictive. They're a silent drug," she said.

Sports psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of NSW School of Business Dr. Jason Mazanov said he hoped research would be funded into the influence of high volumes of caffeine during exercise.

Mazanov was guest speaker at the forum, which also discussed doping and illicit drugs in sport.

"Some people in sport don't prioritize health particularly highly; they're more interested in looking good on the field or winning," Mazanov said.

"High-energy sports drinks are becoming a bit of a worry for everybody.

"Anecdotally we'd have to say we've heard things and it points in the direction that the use is increasing and there are some health concerns. Do we have data to support that? No.

"We've been trying to get research funding to look at that particular issue, and it doesn't seem to be forthcoming.

"Caffeine use, especially amongst adolescents, because it's so readily accessible now, is more popular."   

From the June 28, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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