To the editor,
The popularity and increased use of caffeinated beverages among youth is a growing concern for physicians. Doctors Nova Scotia wants youth and parents to be informed and aware of the dangers of caffeine drinks alone and especially when mixed with alcohol.
Energy drinks shouldn’t be getting into the hands of youth in the first place: the labels on these drinks state that they are not recommended for young people. It’s important for Nova Scotians to understand the dangers associated with consuming highly caffeinated beverages. Health Canada reports that too much caffeine can result in nausea and vomiting and/or heart irregularities, anxiety, sleeping problems, headaches, and irritability and nervousness.
It can be easy to over consume caffeine because many beverages contain above the recommended maximum daily consumption. A youth who is 54 kilograms (roughly 120 pounds) should not consume more than 136 milligrams of caffeine daily. Many energy drinks contain 360 milligrams of caffeine, more than twice the recommended daily intake, and can often be consumed in bulk.
Even with warning labels in place, we also know that 25 per cent of Nova Scotia’s youth in high school are mixing it with alcohol. With the combined effects of a stimulant found in caffeine and a depressant found in alcohol, the result is a feeling of diminished intoxication without reducing actual alcohol-related impairment. This leads to increased consumption of alcohol and a “wide-awake” drunk.
Combining caffeinated drinks with alcohol is a big concern for physicians. Youth who combine the two are more likely to be injured, require medical treatment, ride with an intoxicated driver, and are more susceptible to alcohol poisoning and death.
Doctors Nova Scotia wants all Nova Scotians to be aware of the potential harm of energy drinks, especially when mixed with alcohol.
For more information, visit www.doctorsNS.com
Mike Fleming, BSc, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President , Doctors Nova Scotia