BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health: Energy drinks



Energy drinks are those beverages that boost or accelerate physical and mental performance. They are functional beverages that are formulated and enjoyed by a range of people especially those in need of additional mental and physical stimulation for a short period of time. Second to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed worldwide particularly by teens and young adults since they are widely promoted as products that increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. Due to their function, energy drinks contain some stimulants, the most common being Caffeine. Other stimulants contained in some brands of energy drinks include guarana and ginseng which are plant-based stimulants. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the quantity of caffeine in one energy drink can range from 80mg- which is similar to the amount in one cup of coffee, to over 500mg. Energy drinks also contain high amounts of sugar, usually about 30grams in a 250 ml bottle or can.

Several studies have reported that energy drinks have negative health effects and consequences. More specifically, a 2013 study reported by Medical News Today, found that energy drinks alter the heart function of healthy adults. Additionally, another study found an association between energy drink consumption and other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking.

Irrespective of the specific contents of energy drinks, they are generally not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people who are sensitive to caffeine. Energy drinks begin to act once caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. This happens within 10 minutes of consumption and this causes a rise in heart rate and blood pressure. Afterward, the level of caffeine in the blood stream peaks within an hour resulting in increased alertness and improved concentration. The negative effects of energy drinks are based on the fact that caffeine is a sly drug that temporarily blocks adenosine pathways. Adenosine is important because it is the chemical that communicates ones level of tiredness to the brain. As caffeine levels increase, it triggers the increased release of dopamine- the ‘feel good’ molecules in the brain. Consequently, the individual feels more alert and better about him/herself. However, caffeine withdrawal which causes headaches and tiredness can occur about 20 hours after consumption. In addition, the liver soaks up more sugar in response to energy drinks which is unhealthy.  It is noteworthy that in 2014, World Health Organization branded energy drinks a “danger to public health,” following the discovery that consuming such drinks increased.

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