Drinking a functional drink while riding, is it a life threatening or threatening health?

The increase in consumption of functional beverages may pose a threat to public health, and the risk is more pronounced among young people. Researchers at the WHO Regional Office in Europe recently expressed this view in the Journal of Frontiers in Public Health.


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Drinking a functional drink while riding, is it a life-threatening or threatening health?


Energy drinks are beverages that contain no alcohol but contain caffeine, vitamins, and a range of "functional ingredients" such as taurine, ginseng, and guarana. These products are often sold as “exciting energy”, “improving the vitality of the body and the ability of the brain to operate”.


João Breda from WHO's European region and colleagues reviewed previous studies and summarized the health risks of functional beverages and related policies. The authors said: "By summarizing the relevant literature, it can be seen that the scientific community and the public's concerns about functional drinks have been widely confirmed: the large intake of these drinks may have potential adverse effects on health."


Functional beverages entered the European market in 1987, and since then it has spread throughout the world and thrived. Between 2008 and 2012, the sales of functional drinks increased rapidly in the United States at a rate of 10% per year. In 2006, nearly 500 new products entered the US market. According to estimates by the European Food Safety Authority, 30% of adults, 68% of adolescents and 18% of children within 10 years of age are consuming functional drinks.


High caffeine threat


Part of the risk of functional drinks comes from the high caffeine content. People can quickly drink a full-featured beverage instead of a small mouth-down product like hot coffee, which can easily cause excessive caffeine. According to a study by the European Food Safety Authority, in Europe, the proportion of caffeine in functional beverages in total caffeine intake is 43% for children, 13% for adolescents and 8% for adults.


Studies have shown that excessive caffeine intake can cause symptoms such as palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and mental disorders, and in some cases may even be fatal. In the United States, Sweden, and Australia, there have been several reported cases of serious consequences due to excessive consumption of functional beverages. For example, a healthy 28-year-old man had a cardiac arrest after drinking 7-8 cans of functional drinks and participating in motocross [1].


Other studies have found that adolescents who regularly consume functional drinks are more likely to make dangerous behaviors such as seeking stimulation, drug abuse, and drunkenness than other peers.

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Functional drinks mix alcohol, the risk is even worse


According to the European Food Safety Authority, 70% of young people (18-29 years old) who drink functional drinks drink while drinking functional drinks. Numerous studies have shown that such "mix and match" is more dangerous than simply drinking. For example, a survey of college students in the United States showed that people who drink functional drinks with alcohol are more likely to drink alcohol than those who drink only, and they are more likely to experience adverse effects such as drunk driving and injury [2]. This may be because the excitement of these drinks makes it harder to realize that they are already drunk.


According to the National Poison Data System, from 2010 to 2011, the Toxic Information Center received 4,854 telephone calls for functional beverages, 40% of which were functional drinks and alcohol. A similar study in Australia also showed that the number of consultation calls received by relevant departments regarding functional beverages is on the rise. Breda and others said that similar investigations are needed in Europe.


Functional beverages are available in any country in the European Union, but several of them have restricted their sales, such as restricting children's purchases. Hungary has imposed a public health tax on functional beverages since 2012; some of the functional drinks in Sweden can only be purchased at pharmacies and are not allowed to be sold to children.


What should I do in the future?


“Unlike alcohol and tobacco, functional beverages do not have a sales restriction policy based on age. On the other hand, there is evidence that these products can pose a potential hazard to children. In the future, this can cause significant public health problems.” The author of the paper concluded.


The authors gave the following suggestions, hoping to minimize the risk of functional drinks:


Based on a thorough research study, the regulatory authorities should establish a cap of caffeine for functional beverages.


Regulate packaging labeling and limit the purchase of functional drinks for children and adolescents.


Establish a standard for the marketing of functional beverages to ensure that consumers understand the risks involved.


Train medical staff to familiarize them with the symptoms and hazards of excessive consumption of functional beverages so that they can respond in a timely manner.


Patients with a history of diet problems or drug abuse should pay more attention to not drinking large amounts of functional drinks (either alone or with alcohol).


It is harmful to the public to popularize functional drinks and alcohol.


Continue research on the health risks of functional beverages, with particular emphasis on their side effects on young people.


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