Those who love energy drinks may have to think twice before next getting one, as the beverages may pose serious health risks.
According to a number of studies conducted worldwide, excessive consumption of energy drinks may lead to risks of cardiac arrest, headaches and migraines, anxiety, insomnia, type 2 diabetes, jitters and nervousness, vomiting, allergic reactions, high blood pressure, release of stress hormones in the long run, and adverse interactions with drugs.
Even a single drink can cause significant changes to blood pressure and to the heart’s electrical activity, the studies said.
In Bangladesh, most of popular energy drink brands in the market contain artificial caffeine higher than the allowed level, and some of the lesser known and imported varieties even contain Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and alcohol as ingredients, said the results of two laboratory tests conducted in Bangladesh in 2014 and 2017.
In 2014, the Department of Narcotics Control of Bangladesh had recommended banning 39 energy drink products that did not have BSTI licenses. The Directorate General of Drug Administration and BSTI had also recommended legal action against the companies selling these products.
“Since the law prohibits the use of the sildenafil citrate (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) in energy drinks, as these are ingredients of medicines approved by the Directorate General of Drug Administration, legal action can be taken against them,” said a letter issued by the Department of Narcotics Control.
It added that heavily sweetened drinks appeal more to young people and a large number of minors in the country are regular consumers.
This year, the Food Safety Authority of Bangladesh (BFSA) collected some random samples from nine brands and tested them at three laboratories. All of the drinks were found to contain more caffeine than the limit of 145mg/L.
The BFSA authorities said reports from two government laboratories and one public university's laboratory found an average of 291mg/L of caffeine in Speed, 314mg/L in Tiger, 361mg/L in Power, 250mg/L Black Horse, 250mg/L in Bull Dozer, 250 mg/L in Royal Tiger, 361mg/L in Braver, 385mg/L in Oscar and 330mg/L in Red Bull.
The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) said they will retest the samples to verify the results.
Interestingly, five of these brands - Speed, Royal Tiger, Power, Black Horse and Red Bull - were also examined in the previous test in 2014, and a slightly lower amount of caffeine was found than in this year’s tests.
Energy drink brand Sting contains 164mg/L of caffeine, Appy Fizz 185mg/L, and Fu-Wang 197mg/L, while Wild Brew was found to contain 0.56% alcohol.
Also Read - Energy drinks cannot be sold as carbonated drinks
BFSA member Mahbub Kabir told the Dhaka Tribune that all of the energy drinks in the market should be declared illegal, as they are certified as beverages, not energy drinks.
“We will move forward with the test results, so that legal action can be taken against the offending companies in the near future,” he added.
The BSTI has already decided to ban the production, marketing and import of energy drinks under the guise of carbonated beverages with immediate effect.
The decision was made at a council meeting on September 12 this year, as manufacture and advertising of energy drinks under a licence for carbonated beverage is fraud, and punishable under several laws including the BSTI Act and the Food Safety Act.
Energy drinks have bad reputation among health experts all over the world.
A CNN report published in April this year
quoted Katherine Zeratsky, a clinical dietitian at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who said the vitamins, amino acids and herbals used in the energy drinks are often in higher concentrations than found naturally in food or plants, and their effects when combined, especially with caffeine, may be enhanced.
Increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people, said researchers of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.
They also suggested that regulations be enforced to restrict sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents.
Hungary introduced a public health tax that includes energy drinks in 2012. In Sweden, sales of some types of energy drinks are restricted to pharmacies and sales to children are banned, according to WHO.
The American Beverage Association, however, stands by the safety of energy drinks as many of their ingredients are also found in common food.
The energy drinks, however, have got bad reputation among the health experts, CNN reported in April.
According to The Caffeineinformer, the energy drinks are often high in sugar, while even sweetened coffee would contain less. A large energy drink generally has 54g of sugar, which is equal to 13.5 teaspoons.
Coffee is an all natural beverage, while energy drinks are often laden with artificial preservatives, flavours and dyes, it further said.
Brewed coffee contains 72mg of caffeine, brewed tea 36mg, and cola drinks 30mg of caffeine per serving.