By TANYA CAMERON
Each year, at our Country Women’s Association annual meeting, the agenda is filled with practical suggestions for policy development on a variety of subjects.
One of the concerns this year was the detrimental effect of, and complacent attitude towards, high energy drinks.
As mothers, grandmothers and aunts, our members had serious concerns about what damage these drinks might be doing to the young people in their lives. They questioned why we ban those under 18 from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, while energy drinks can be bought practically anywhere, by anyone and consumed in any quantity.
So as I drink my second cup of coffee for the day (fighting off feelings of hypocrisy) and write about our petition to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors, I ponder past discussions with my own children on this subject and the possible side effects of consuming too many. Their oft touted and very quick responses were along the lines of “no worse than your coffee, mum” and “the label says I can have this many.”
So why are we so concerned, especially for our younger generation?
Essentially they are a cocktail of ingredients that includes caffeine, sugar, taurine, herbal supplements, ephedrine, ginseng, guarana and the list goes on. Some are found naturally, others not so much. The average energy drink contains a whopping 160–300mg caffeine per 500ml serve. Whereas coffee only has 80–160mg and tea 40–120mg for an equivalent amount i.e. two cups.
The higher rate of caffeine found in most energy drinks can cause insomnia, headache, rapid heart rate, nervousness, hypertension, anxiety and diarrhoea not to mention developing a dependence on caffeine. Who knows what damage, over time, this causes a developing body and mind?
Studies show that young teenagers who frequently consume these drinks on their way to school are more disruptive in class, have poor concentration and some have been admitted to hospital suffering heart palpitations. My morning coffee certainly doesn’t do that. What happened to good old Weet Bix for energy?