Call for energy drinks ban

DEBATE is raging among health experts over whether it is safe to consume energy drinks, particularly when mixed with alcohol.

With an increasing number of people using the drinks to power their summer activities and halt holiday hangovers, experts are conflicted over their use.

A University of Wollongong academic this week called for the drinks, particularly those mixed with alcohol, to be banned.

Professor Sandra Jones said her team had found 12 to 17-year-olds reported feeling sick, having heart palpitations and even seizures after consuming the drinks.

Alcohol-energy drink mixers have been banned in some US states and parts of Europe because of the possible links with several deaths, including at least one in Australia.

Newcastle Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services area director Dr Adrian Dunlop said the jury was still out on their safety.

"There's not a lot of hard evidence either way," he said.

"Yes they can be strong, but not dangerously strong in the sorts of quantities they are sold."

However experts stress the drinks, like anything, should not be consumed to excess.

University of Newcastle senior health lecturer and dietitian Tracy Burrows did a review of all the studies on energy drinks available.

She found just 15 studies since 1973 that looked at the drinks as a whole, not just caffeine or guarana, and said the evidence was inconclusive.

"There's no long-term research, which is what's needed," she said.

"Caffeine on its own can be not so great if consumed in large amounts.

Red Bull said last year 4 billion of its cans were consumed worldwide and health authorities across the globe had concluded that its drinks were safe.

Professor Sandra Jones. Picture: Andy Zakeli

Professor Sandra Jones. Picture: Andy Zakeli


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