Health officer to study energy drink concerns
Alward government has asked Dr. Eilish Cleary to look into adverse effects on children
New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming has asked the province's chief medical officer of health to look into concerns about the adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on children.
Dr. Eilish Cleary will work with stakeholders on the issue, Flemming said in a statement.
The Department of Health will also host a one-day meeting later this year to discuss ways to minimize the potential risks of the caffeinated drinks.
"Energy drinks can be a source of concern, especially because of their popularity among minors," said Flemming.
"That is why I am asking our chief medical officer of health to look into this issue and weigh the impact energy drinks can have on the health of young New Brunswickers."
The sale of energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages is already prohibited at New Brunswick schools.
They are, however, readily available at convenience stores and grocery stores.
Energy drinks contain caffeine, the amino acid taurine, sugar, and may contain herbs, such as guarana and yerba mate, which also increase the caffeine content, according to the chief medical officer of health.
Caffeine is known to cause anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and insomnia. It can affect blood pressure and heart rate. At higher doses, it can cause delirium, neuromuscular tremors, and convulsions, said Dr. Eilish Cleary.
"Parents should be aware that children are at an increased risk of experiencing these symptoms when consuming energy drinks," said Cleary.
"Health problems can also arise when too many energy drinks are consumed, when they are combined with alcohol, or when they are used during or after intense exercise," she said.
Reports of adverse effects
Last April, MLA Bill Fraser introduced a private member's bill that would require anyone who sells the highly-caffeinated drinks to warn the buyer about how dangerous they can be by posting a sign, much like the ones used for cigarette smoking.
Fraser said the next step might be prohibiting sale to those under 18.
As of late last year, Health Canada had received 86 reports of adverse reactions to energy drinks. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States was investigating reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to so-called "energy shots."
In January, a government survey in the United States suggested the number of people seeking emergency treatment after consuming energy drinks had doubled during the previous four years, the same period in which the supercharged drink industry had surged in popularity.
The government estimated the number of emergency room visits related to the drinks had jumped to 20,000 from 10,000 between 2007 and 2011.
Most of those cases involved teens or young adults, according to the survey of the nation's hospitals, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The report did not specify which symptoms brought people to the emergency room, but called energy drink consumption a "rising public health problem" that can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care.