Health recommends avoiding energy drinks in children and pregnant or lactating women

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The Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) has concluded that the energy drinks, that contain
high doses of caffeine
and other ingredients such as taurine, L-carnitine, glucuronolactone, guarana, ginseng and B vitamins, among others, are not recommended in children, pregnant or lactating women.

After reviewing the ingredients and consumption of these products in Spain, Aesan has prepared the
Report on the risks associated with the consumption of energy drinks
, which was presented this Monday by the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón. This document urges the authorities to regulate the term energy drink, which is still a concept not defined or included in the legislation. “It is recommended to advance in the establishment of its legal framework, including its definition, the ingredients they may contain, their maximum concentration, and possible combinations,” says the document, which has been coordinated by Dr. Carmen Rubio Armendariz. Along the same lines, Aesan advises to improve, in collaboration with industry, the Consumer information included in the labeling of energy drinks, favoring not only the incorporation of the name of all active ingredients in the list of ingredients but also their content.

This study reveals that a person who takes more than 1.4 milligrams of caffeine per kilo of weight per day can suffer insomnia and reduction of the duration of sleep. If this consumption rises to 3 milligrams, it can involve cardiovascular and hematological, neurological and psycho-behavioral risks.

In addition to caffeine (the most common packages of this product contain 32 milligrams per 100 milliliters), energy drinks usually contain other ingredients such as taurine, L-carnitine, glucuronolactone, guarana, ginseng and B vitamins, among others. They can also provide up to 11 grams of sugar per 100 ml.

Garzón has been especially concerned with the intake of energy drinks by the little ones. According to the data provided, the prevalence of consumption in adults (18-65 years) is 31%; among adolescents (10 to 18 years old) it is 62%, while in children from 3 to 10 years it is 26%. «One in four children consume energy drinks at ages that should not have access, “warned the minister, who attributes it to the” ignorance “that parents have about the components and characteristics of the product.

“These recommendations are the basis of the conversations that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will hold with the industry, scientists and experts. We are clear that the function of labeling is essential for an adequate knowledge of the risks. We are facing a new market that lacks regulation and leads to misunderstandings ”, explained Albeto Garzón during the presentation of the report. The minister recalled that we are dealing with a product that «is usually equated to a normal soda and common when by its nature, especially due to the large amount of caffeine, it’s quite different».

Regarding the content in herbal ingredients, Aesan emphasizes that the biological activity of the different active principles and their ability to interact with medications. “The consumer must be warned not only of the contents included but of the possibility / risk of interaction, as well as those situations in which intake is contraindicated”, they point out. Thus, the recommendation is to avoid energy drinks with ginseng during pregnancy, lactation and in children, and also in adolescents under 18 years of age given the lack of evaluation of the effects of ginseng in these population groups. Ginkgo energy drinks are also discouraged during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Regarding the sugar intake from the consumption of non-zero energy drinks, it is estimated that the consumption of 250 ml could represent 10% of the energy in diets of 2,200-2,400 kcal, which favors a excessive consumption of simple sugars.

The Aesan report recommends encouraging moderate consumption of energy drinks and avoiding risky behaviors, especially their combination with alcoholic beverages. In addition, it suggests a greater control of advertising, especially that directed to the less sensitive population. Along the same lines, it recommends promoting compliance with the industry commitment in the small packaging marketing (not more than 250 ml) that contribute to moderate exposure to the different active components, some of them psychoactive, and study the possibility of suspending the marketing of 500 ml containers.

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