HIVOS Sustainable Diets Regional Advocacy Manager William Chilufya says consumption of energy drinks by adolescents can impair their growth and brain development.

Chilufya also said the intake of these drinks could lead to diabetes and cause obese children to also grow into obese adults as a result of poor lifestyle.

According to a statement issues yesterday, Chilufya stated that energy drinks were not suitable for intake by adolescents.

“Energy drinks have been reported to disrupt sleep probably because of the caffeine content, if this happens it would impair the growth of an adolescent’s body and brain which occurs mainly during sleep. Caffeine has some other potential health risks too including palpations, high blood pressure, vomiting and convulsions and even in extreme amounts death. Intake of energy drinks is most often followed by drowsiness and a slump when the effects wear off. What is more worrying is that the energy drinks are becoming a cool thing to teenagers. These energy drinks may make the kids jittery, lose concentration and get slumps,” Chilufya stated.

Chilufya also said the intake of these drinks could lead to diabetes.

“Evidence shows that excessive intake of sugar causes obesity which can further contributes to the development of type II diabetes due to insulin resistance. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults resulting in diseases of poor lifestyle that are expensive to manage and treat. One may argue that energy drinks cannot compare to regular drinks high in sugar because they have the combination of high sugar content and powerful stimulants mainly caffeine which rapidly and temporarily increases alertness, attention and energy for the day. Do not be cheated to think that’s by comparing the amount of caffeine in energy drinks to that in a cup of coffee makes it safe to consume, new research shows that the unique mix in energy drinks poses a higher risk,” Chilufya stated.

Chilufya stated that most energy drinks contained more added sugar than recommended by WHO.

“The World Health Organization recommends an intake of added sugar (sugar that is not naturally found in food) of not more than 6 table spoons per day. However, most sugary beverages in Zambia contain more than double this amount. WHO already sounded the warning that energy drinks may pose danger to public health,” stated Chilufya.