Mohamed H. Zakaria, Jeddah published 7 April 2006

Cause for Concern

The flood of so-called energy drinks in the market is a matter of great concern. In recent years consumption of energy drinks among the youth is rising. Taking into consideration the consumption of cigarettes and other soft drinks, Saudi Arabia may rank top in per-capita consumption of caffeine in the world. And surprisingly, no one has shown any concern on the spread of energy drinks use among the youth.

Energy drinks are supposedly designed to increase stamina and improve physical performance. Some of them are designed for elite athletes. Most are produced and marketed for the general community, especially youths.

The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone. The producers of energy drinks tout the healthy effects of their products including increased physical endurance, improved reaction time, boosting mental alertness and concentration and help eliminate waste from the body. Although the drinks are marketed as healthy, it would be wise to be cautious in the youth’s daily consumption of energy drinks.

Caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone occur naturally in the body, but the fact that they are present in much larger doses in energy drinks should be of cause for concern for the parents and authorities as Saudi Arabia already has a large number of diabetics.

Further, scientists have determined that increased caffeine can have an effect on the growing brain and that it may cause a decline in the body’s immune system.

It is high time that authorities ask energy drink producers to print caution labels on the cans and bottles that energy drinks may cause harm to some members of our community such as pregnant women as high amount of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage or trigger other complications and also affect children under the age of ten.