I know full well the harmful effects of energy drinks. I used to love them in my media industry days. I always wondered why I had small fits and palpitations after a morning throwing back a couple of fizzy e-drinks to get through a busy day. My doc told me at the time they were poison and I needed to stay away from them. Now, this interesting report from Canterbury Uni.

Teenagers guzzling caffeine-loaded “energy” drinks might be causing themselves long-term damage, research shows. A Canterbury University master’s project by Nika Anderson investigated the effects of caffeine consumption on adolescent brain development in rats.

During middle and later adulthood, the 27 male and 27 female rats treated with caffeine were “probably more emotionally reactive” than the untreated control rats.They were less mobile and defecated and urinated more than the other rats. “Overall, the results suggest that exposure to caffeine during adolescence produces some small but significant increases in emotionality in adulthood,” the study said.

The findings “may have clinical implications”, because it was possible that adolescents exposed to caffeine would also show increased anxiety later in life. A further study this year had raised concern about energy drinks having a high potential to cause acute caffeine toxicity. A Wellington schoolgirl last month collapsed and needed to be treated by paramedics after she drank a high-powered energy drink bought from a dairy opposite her school.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) is investigating the legality of an “energy shot” drink with twice the caffeine of an average cup of coffee. Public health nutritionist Bronwen King said too much caffeine could increase calcium excretion, compromising bone growth.

“This puts heavy users at risk of osteoporosis later in life,” King said. “As well, it affects concentration of kids in the classroom, thus compromising learning and cognitive development. “Energy” drinks are also high in sugar and kilojoules that are not easily burned off and therefore contribute further to overweight and obesity.”

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