LAHORE - Cool advertisements and misconception about energy drinks has caused alarming increase in the consumption of these stimulants especially among youth with the people at helm of affairs merely acting as silent spectators.

Unlike cigarettes, there is no legal bar on underage sale of energy drinks and advertisements on television and newspapers, causing the business community to attract consumers from every age group.

Over a dozen of imported and 3-4 local brands of energy drinks are available in every nook and corner of major cities including Lahore with people of every age group attracting to these due to wrong perception of ‘instant energy booster’.

There is trend of ignorant parents giving school going children energy drinks for boosting their energy so that they could cope with extra burden of studies.

Besides number of health hazards, regular use of energy drinks is making youth addict of blend of harmful chemicals.

Caffeine, major ingredient of these drinks, only provides stimulation for a brief period of time, keeps people awake and no short term or long term health benefit.

“There is no mechanism to check sale of energy drinks to under age people,” said Dr Amer Bandesha, senior cardiologist working at Punjab Institute of Cardiology. He added the ‘cool’ advertisements are attracting youth to consume more and more energy drinks.

“These are harmful for the physical and mental health of children. Regular use of energy drinks can make people addict. Besides aggravating condition of those having some complications, regular intake of these stimulants can develop diseases like cardiac ailment, hypertension and diabetes due to high caffeine and sugar contents.

“Regular consumption of energy drinks is harmful. People lack awareness regarding hazards of consuming too many energy drinks in a day. These are just stimulants and not energy boosters. High caffeine contents just keep people awake and nothing else.”

“On the other hand, hazards are enormous especially for those already having some complications. Regular intake of energy drinks can develop complications even among healthy individuals”, said Dr Rauf, a leading family physician.

Energy drinks have three to five times the amount of caffeine as regular sodas do. They also contain a number of unregulated herbal stimulants and natural blends like taurine, guarana, creatine and B-vitamins. The manufacturers, often, don’t even bother to list these ingredients on the label.

Combination of different chemicals gives more harm than good, especially for children and people already having different complications. Hazards of energy drinks include elevated heart beat, hypertension, anxiety, headaches and interrupted sleep patterns.

Energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions that can be harmful for people with certain heart conditions. Consumption of too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Larger doses of caffeine can spur full blown panic attacks.

Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, can cause some people to miss sleep all together. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration tasks.

As energy drinks contain high sugar, they eventually wear out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to diabetes.

Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications especially taken for depression. People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink.

Teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or trouble. Even just one 250ml energy drink can increase anxiety in young men.

Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and oesophagus if frequent.

Owing to variety of ingredients, energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction. Energy drinks can elevate a person’s blood pressure. Those with already elevated blood pressure can be at risk of stroke and hypertension if consuming energy drinks.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) is important ingredient of energy drinks. Overdosing of vitamin is possible when consuming energy drinks in addition to supplements. It can cause skin flushing, dizziness, rapid heart rate, vomiting, itching, gout and diarrhoea.