Children and youngsters ingesting way too much caffeine

Energy drinks at the core of the problem

Every fifth child aged 10-14 has a higher caffeine intake than the maximum recommended when they ingest energy drinks, according to new figures from the national food institute DTU Fødevareinstituttet.

The figures (here in Danish) also showed that, when taking into account their consumption of other caffeine sources such as cola and chocolate, every second child and more than every third youngster aged 15-17 intakes too much caffeine.

Children who ingest more than the recommended maximum of 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram per day can suffer from side-effects such as insomnia, restlessness, palpitations, irritability, angst and nervousness. Some 42 percent of energy drink consumers have experienced side-effects.

”It's concerning that so many have experienced side-effects from energy drinks,” Jeppe Matthiessen, a senior adviser with DTU Fødevareinstituttet, said in a press release. ”It looks as if there has been a change in what is accepted as normal drinks.”

”Energy drinks now have the same status for youngsters as soft drinks used to have. The use of and attitudes towards energy drinks leads us to worry that their intake will increase in coming years and we recommend that more information about the issue is directed to children, youths and their parents.”

READ MORE: Youngsters downing energy drinks for breakfast

Sign of unhealthy lifestyle
The sale of energy drinks in Denmark has almost tripled in recent years from about 4 million litres in 2010 to around 11 million litres in 2013. Energy drinks contain between 150 and 320 milligrams of caffeine per litre.

DTU Fødevareinstituttet's research indicated that about 50 percent of 15 to 26-year-olds drink an energy drink at least once a month. That figure is at 13 percent among kids aged 10-14.

The research also showed that those who drink energy drinks often lead less healthy lives that those who do not. Obesity, smoking, lack of sleep, too much time in front of TV and computer screens and increased consumption of soft drinks are all connected to energy drinks.

A report by Metroxpress newspaper last week showed that a growing number of young people in Denmark were replacing their morning meal with one or more energy drinks on the way to school