I was pleased to read that Doctors Nova Scotia is pushing for a ban on the sale of energy drinks to minors (i.e. anyone under the age of 19). They’re also calling for better labelling of energy drinks. In my previous life as a public health dietitian in Ontario this is something I wanted to push for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in our operational plan for the year so I never had a chance to (ah, bureaucracy).
I’ve been told stories of parents feeding every drinks to their children before sporting competitions. I’ve also heard from parents of children suffering adverse reactions (seizures, death) following the consumption of energy drinks. Children do not need these high levels of caffeine. Health Canada recommends no more than 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight a day. This amount can be easily exceeded with just one energy drink. They can contain up to 400 mg of caffeine.
One of the tricky things about energy drinks, under the current legislation, is that they only have to list the added caffeine on the label. All of the caffeine that comes from “natural” sources like yerba mate. Also, as with any food or beverage, you need to make sure that the serving size corresponds with the amount that you’re actually consuming. If there’s two servings per can and you drink a whole can then you’re getting (at least) twice as much caffeine as is listed on the label.
I hope that Doctors Nova Scotia are successful in their bid to change the regulations surrounding energy drinks. People can complain about nanny states all they want but until they’re grown-up (or in the case of adults act like grown-ups) then a nanny may be just what they need.