Concerns over increasing caffeine consumption
Caffeine is being added to everything from chips to energy drinks which is raising concerns according to dietitian Melanie McGrice.PT1M41S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2t22x 620 349 September 3, 2013
Caffeine is creeping into our diets at an alarming rate, as the number of cafes and the sale of energy drinks has ballooned in a decade, a consultation paper prepared for the Australian and New Zealand governments shows.
Australians now drink 1 billion coffees a year at cafes and another 4 billion at home, according to the Australian Beverages Council - while the consumption of energy drinks grew from 34.5 million litres in 2001 to 155.6 million litres in 2010, making it the fastest growing beverage in the market.
But foods that contain a surprisingly high level of caffeine including chocolate, muffins and breakfast cereals are also on the rise, the paper said.
The big caffeine fix.
The burgeoning presence of caffeine in our diets, particularly those of children, has led to a joint Australian and New Zealand health working group to review policy guidelines on the addition of caffeine in foods and drinks, to be released on Tuesday.
''Public health concerns continue to grow over caffeinated energy drinks,'' spokeswoman Kay McNiece from the Department of Health and Ageing said.
There are more than 40 food products that can contain caffeine, yet don't necessarily have caffeine labelled in their ingredients list. When caffeine is ''naturally present'' in food such as cocoa, the amount of caffeine is not listed, the report said.
Doctors are warning against excessive consumption of caffeine, which can lead to problems including insomnia, nervousness, headache, tachycardia, arrhythmia and nausea. ''Energy drinks have the potential to increase your heart rate and therefore blood pressure,'' said Dr Rob Grenfell, national cardiovascular health director at the Heart Foundation.
''It is unknown what the long-term effects of high dosages of caffeine are, however, increased blood pressure is a major risk factor for future coronary heart disease.''
But despite health warnings, there are no dietary guidelines on caffeine consumption. The Dietitians Association of Australia recommends you shouldn't drink more than four to five cups of instant coffee a day, or 300 to 400 milligrams per day.
One energy shot of the V Pocket Rocket has 200 milligrams alone in just 100ml.
Beyond coffees and energy drinks, there has been a growth of ''novelty'' products containing caffeine, such as chewing gum and corn chips, the report said.
Children are at risk from becoming stressed from food they eat that contains caffeine, including chocolate milk, says Irina Pollard from the biological sciences department at Macquarie University.
''It's not just caffeine it's the sugar boost,'' Ms Pollard said.
''It interferes with their rhythm and makes them nervous,'' she said. ''You are giving them milk with the caffeine drug that reduces the absorption of the milk, children are stimulated anyway.''
The Australian Beverages Council said it ''welcomed'' the review but argued energy drinks, now worth $593 million in Australia, were one of the ''most regulated'' in the world.
''The industry acknowledges energy drinks are a topical issue, but when viewed in the context of the total diet they represent a very small part, unlike other products like coffee,'' chief executive Geoff Parker said.