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Energy drinks don't give you wings

Cans of energy drinks are displayed in a US store

Cans of energy drinks are displayed in a US store Photo: AP

Energy drinks can be found in gyms, sporting fields, and even in our children's classrooms in what now amounts to a $3 billion industry.

But while the cola and soda market is starting to decline, energy drink consumption is on the rise, helped, of course, by those cool cans with the hip advertisements.

So where exactly do these drinks get all their 'energy' from? I've looked into this very question and come up with some good reasons why you should think hard before grabbing that colourful little can off the shelf.

The sugar - One brand boasts they produce the world's most powerful energy drink. If power equals sugar grams, then they are correct. One 500ml can I looked at contained 83.5 grams of sugar – about 19 sugar cubes. That's the same sugar content as 8 donuts. All the other players in the energy drink market contain about 55 grams of sugar per large can. Shocking.

Dr Alan Barclay with the Australian Diabetes Council recommends we consume no more than 10 – 12 added teaspoons of sugar per day – but these energy drinks provide almost twice that in one hit.

The stimulants - Many of these drinks contain the caffeine of more than two cappuccinos, with most of them adding taurine, guarana or ginseng as extra stimulants. Caffeine is widely considered addictive, and so you can only assume these energy drinks are too.

Of course two cappuccinos per day isn't the end of a healthy world - but what happens when you add 19 teaspoons of sugar?

When all these elements are mixed at high concentrations, medical experts are finding problems can occur, especially for children or when they were mixed with alcohol. The Medical Journal of Australia recently published a study that examined call data to the Poison Information Centre over the last seven years, and found the misuse of energy drinks was increasingly common, with reports of hallucinations, palpitation and even seizures.

The lack of water – If you're drinking energy drinks, then you are not drinking water. The majority of the earth and our bodies are made up of water. To flush out toxins and stay healthy, we don't need sugary, fizzy drinks loaded with chemicals.

The marketing - How many drinks do you know that have the clout to sponsor major sporting events, have dedicated fridges in pubs and promise to give you wings?

Other chemicals – along with artificial flavours, many of these drinks contain chemicals such as sodium citrate, inositol, niacinimide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, and cyanocobolamin. What are these chemicals? I'm not a chemist, so I don't know. But I do know they probably don't belong in my body.

The cost – Consuming just one of these drinks per day … imagine the cost to your wallet, your gut, and your health? 83.5 grams of sugar per day is over 30kgs of sugar a year. But the true cost won't be felt by you until sometime down the track when your body finally says "no more".

Are you an energy drink fan - or do you think we would all be better off without them?

42 comments so far

  • Cyanocobolamin is converted to vitamin B12 in the body. I cannot absorb it so I have to have it injected every six weeks. Without it I would die. Inositol is a complex type of alcohol which occurs naturally. It is used as a sweetener (as if these drinks need more). Sodium citrate comes from citrus fruits and gives them the bitter-sweet taste. Pyridoxine hydrochloride is vitamin B6 and niacinamide is vitamin B3. If you eat a normal balanced diet you don't need any of these.

    Brian Burbage
    Date and time
    April 25, 2012, 3:32PM
    • Whilst I agree with the author, it wouldn't have been too hard to do a little research into the ingredients. If this were a high school assignment, they would have received a pass at best.

      Not Me
      Date and time
      April 26, 2012, 6:32AM
    • Nice job Brian

      "But I do know they probably don't belong in my body"

      apparently journalists should research more than the back of the can before writing an article.

      Actually, no, this piece is by a personal trainer... my apologies, apparently P.T. should do more than research the back of a can...

      Date and time
      April 26, 2012, 9:35AM
  • True that! Energy drinks have been around for circa 20 years. Energy has been around since the dawn of time - if you need energy in a cup (or can) to "survive the mornings" or whatever people say, then perhaps you need to get a life and find out what being tired actually means. Additives = addiction.

    Black Palm
    Date and time
    April 25, 2012, 4:16PM
    • Great research for this article! list a group of chemicals that you read off the side of an energy drink can and make a judgement that they aren't good for you based upon no professional knowledge what so ever. You could of at least tried to get a chemist to explain them to you [thanks Brian Burbage].

      Date and time
      April 25, 2012, 4:49PM
      • Brian B... If you eat a normal balanced diet you don't need any of these.

        Hit nail on the head ... but fact... most people don't why doc's prescribe drugs. did you know a carrot cake, Blueberry Muffin and upsized fast food meals for breakfast (7am airport) are healthy...heard them all :(

        All the other players in the energy drink market contain about 55 grams of sugar per large can. Shocking.

        Main point have issue with is 'all players' ... is incorrect, there are healthy alternatives to choose, if going to drink

        Date and time
        April 25, 2012, 5:25PM
        • Yes, it's called water!

          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 11:53AM
      • Almost any way you look at these drinks they are truly hideous concoctions.
        Lord only knows what the developers sit around and discuss before they get the product to market.

        Date and time
        April 25, 2012, 5:40PM
        • Great stuff!! Good simple advice for ordinary, Joe-blows, that doesn't know too much about nutrition & thinks the government will protect them,by allowing these poisons to be sold over the counter,keep up the good work

          Avoca Beach
          Date and time
          April 25, 2012, 7:41PM
          • I have never tried anyone of these drinks and never intend to. I am so concerned about these types of drinks on the market and what they do to people's metabolism and wellbeing. I see people chugging them back in the workplace, on the streets, they are everywhere. Its all to do with making money at other people's expense just like junk food/ fast food outlets.

            Caulfield South
            Date and time
            April 25, 2012, 7:56PM

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