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‘Energy’ drinks and children

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 Source: Godfred Nkachih

For many individuals all over the world, taking energy drinks has now become a part of their daily lifestyle.

They are taken as beverages and as thirst-quenching drinks. The most common purpose, in my view, is to take advantage of their aphrodisiac properties under the disguise of ‘energy’ boosters.

In spite of whatever purpose they may serve, one cannot rule out the side effects of energy drinks considering the ingredients they contain.

Ingredients such as caffeine, ‘ginseng’ and sugars may be common to lay people like me who are not science-oriented. There are also medical properties such as Glucuronolactone, Ginkgo Biloba,

L-Carnitine, L-Theanine, Inositol, and Taurine just to mention a few. These are known to cause nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin (feelings of warmth and rapid reddening of the neck, upper chest or facial region), low blood pressure, palpitations and so on.

Yes! Many do not take time to research into these ingredients before consumption. I used to be a victim.

In 2015, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) banned celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages. The policy was inspired by the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to Mr John Odame-Darkwa, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, prohibiting celebrities and those with a great influence on the society from advertising alcoholic beverages was one of the steps to sanitising the industry.

The directive was born out of a WHO research which revealed that alcohol-related diseases affecting children were on the rise. The role played by celebrities in advertising alcoholic beverages was found to influence child acceptance and intake.

What puzzles me is whether we have to wait for a WHO research finding. And I am not sure if the situation has changed since the introduction of the ban. Our television and radio airwaves, posters and giant billboards still carry these advertisements.

I believe that these adverts constitute the highest in most media houses. The good thing is that these are accompanied by warnings to consumers below 18 and pregnant and/or lactating mothers. Yet, these may not be enough in the face of enticing adverts before the eyes of the vulnerable.

My focus in this article is neither on alcoholic beverages nor on the consumption of energy drinks by adults. My worry is child intake of the so-called energy drinks. I intend to draw attention to a phenomenon either unnoticed or neglected by relevant authorities and the general public.

This may come to you, dear reader, as a surprise. It is real. Real as some parents, probably ignorantly or otherwise, give these drinks to their children to take to school. Let us remember that the side effects may come later in life. Lactating and/or pregnant mothers should also be conscious of effect of their intake on babies and the unborn child.

If after reading this article, you become more conscious and wary of your intake of ‘energy’ drinks, then my caution would have been worth the while. Let not profit-making go ahead of a healthy nation. Health, they say, is wealth.

Columnist: Godfred Nkachih