Doctors, researchers and poison information specialists have gone to battle against the energy drink industry in Australia over the safety of the highly caffeinated products. The health professionals are seeing the tragic after-effects of teen consumption of the drinks, while the Australian Beverage Council sees financial profits. A late-breaking article in today’s Herald Sun stated the positions clearly. The rise in teens being seen by the doctors has increased in the last few years, as have the energy drink related calls to Poison Control. These professionals want better warning labels on the drinks, while some are going so far as to suggest age-restricted sales to those over 18.
Calling the drinks “poison”, the article stated that those affected are showing hallucinations, seizures and cardiac problems. Caffeine in amounts up to 20 cups of coffee per some cans has to be more clearly stated, though the doctors did not prove this amount exists. The drink industry refutes this by stating that such emergency room events amounted to only "0.00001 per cent of the population", but no proof was given to support this.
Another unsupported statement was that the drinks have no more caffeine than “a common cup of coffee’. They also complained that if energy drinks were more regulated, coffee, tea and even chocolate bars should be regulated. Chocolate bars?? If the readers of these articles are a reliable indication of the public’s view, about 78% of them agreed with the doctors in a poll. One pertinent issue deals with how much control parents have or should have over their teens. Mom and dad cannot be overseeing the kids all hours of the day. Teens have to have some free time in which to grow and develop some responsibility. Obviously they do this at different rates. If they can’t go into a store and buy a beer, logic says maybe they shouldn’t be able to buy energy drinks. Stores could help by giving the energy drinks a lower profile.
In the US and most other countries they are right up front and the most easily accessible product in the store, it seems. To expect kids to listen to parents while at the same time storekeepers push the drinks hard, is to take an unrealistic and unfair position. Teens by nature always listen to parents, right? Most also think they’ll live forever and don’t understand the negative effects on their bodies of massive intakes of sugar and caffeine. None of the arguments presented in the article mentioned the strength of peer pressure, which is the biggest force in operation here. Restrictions in the marketplace are the only workable answer – until the teens grow up and switch to coffee.
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