The producers claim that they ‘give you wings’ or let you ‘unleash the beast’, but they are no match for a healthy breakfast, according to experts. Metroxpress reports that a growing number of young people in Denmark are replacing their morning meal with one or more energy drinks on the way to school – a trend that is worrying nutritionists.
The paper surveyed salespeople at 7-Eleven shops, kiosks at train stations and Netto supermarkets in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg. Staff at all of the locations confirmed that the sale of energy drinks in the morning to older children and teenagers had increased in recent years.
A EU study in 2013 found that one in every eight young people consume energy drinks every day. Figures from Nielsen Scan Track show that the sale of beverages in Denmark rose from 4.07 million litres in 2010 to 8.45 million litres in 2012.
Marta Axelstad Petersen, a researcher in energy drinks at DTU’s food institute Fødevareinstitut, said the products raised many health-related concerns. “They’re definitely not a healthy breakfast,” she said.
“And if you drink more than one, as many do, you risk both discomfort and temporary behavioural changes, increased nervousness and anxiousness as well as harmful effects that can go on to be decidedly dangerous.”
Diabetes is one such risk, according to Kim Ustrup of the diabetes centre Steno.
“People who don’t eat breakfast run a higher risk of becoming overweight and, as a result of this, a higher risk of developing diabetes,” he said.
“We know that a high intake of sugar leads to obesity, so the drinks can contribute to the growing rates of obesity and consequently diabetes.”
Niels Ebbehøj, a consultant at the poison control hotline Giftlinjen at Bispebjerg Hospital, told Metroxpress that the hotline regularly takes calls from young people who have drunk too many energy drinks.
“We get multiple calls from young people who are experiencing palpitations and feel unwell after having consumed too many energy drinks.”