An energy drink is taken to mean a non-alcoholic drink that contains caffeine, taurine (an amino acid) and vitamins, in addition to other ingredients. It is now commonplace, especially among young people, to mix energy drinks with alcoholic spirits. Many pubs and clubs will sell jugs or “goldfish bowls” of Red Bull and vodka.
Energy drinks are marketed for their perceived or actual benefits as a stimulant, for improving performance and increasing energy. Companies often have sponsorship deals with extreme sportsWar franchises, presumably to sell the message that energy drinks are “edgy and energetic”.
Potential risks associated with energy drink consumption include:
- caffeine overdose (which can lead to a number of symptoms, including palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, convulsions and, in some cases, even death)
- type 2 diabetes – as high consumption of caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity
- late miscarriages, low birth weight, and stillbirths in pregnant women
- neurological and cardiovascular system effects in children and adolescents
- sensation-seeking behaviour
- use and dependence on other harmful substances
- poor dental health
- somewhat ironically, given their association with sportiness, obesity
Energy drinks also contain a variety of other ingredients, such as guarana, and the effect of long-term regular consumption of the combination of the substances in energy drinks is unknown.
The increasing practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol also carries risks. The researchers state that the consumption of high amounts of caffeine (as found in energy drinks) reduces drowsiness without diminishing the effects of alcohol, resulting in “wide awake drunkenness.” Therefore, there is the risk that people will engage in a risky and dangerous behavior, such as violence or unprotected sex, as the mix of alcohol and caffeine can lead to a loss of inhibition.
Moderation is key in every lifestyle. Everything in excess has a disadvantage.