Feb 8 2013 By Tom Dunn, Hillingdon Health Promotion Officer
This week I have been out of the office most days.
I’ve met lots of different people and groups, I’ve met a food business in Yiewsley who want to make their business healthier, I’ve helped the You Cooks team run a cookery roadshow at Barra Hall children’s centre (see pic!) and am planning some work with young people aged 16-25 and visited a couple of schools.
When I was out one evening, I saw a group of kids drinking those super strong beercan-sized energy drinks. They were secondary school age which seems a bit young for an ‘adult’ drink. I’ve tried them at mountain bike events and they made me feel very odd and I’m twice the age and twice the size of these kids! The really troubling thing was that this was at 8pm on a school night. I’ve no idea how they would get any sleep …
These super caffeinated beverages aren’t very good for us, especially not for children and young people. They are incredibly high in sugar and caffeine, far more than other more established fizzy drinks.
Caffeine is a strong drug if you are not used to it and it really shouldn’t be drunk in large amounts. If you’ve ever had too much coffee you may have had the shakes, cold sweats and even palpitations. These drinks can be like downing four cups of coffee at once, so not to be taken lightly! I can’t vouch for 100 per cent accuracy on this website, but have a look here to see the amounts of caffeine in drinks.
An Australian study found that there are increasing hospital admissions for caffeine toxicity. It’s a small study but I think UK and US data would be similar.
These super energy drinks are a huge and emerging market and new brands keep popping up and aggressively marketing to young people, using extreme sports and music events to catch attention.
This week I decided to ask a whole primary school about these drinks.
* 75 per cent of children had tried the biggest brand of energy drink:
* 30-40 per cent had tried the super strong beer can sized versions
* 90 per cent had tried sports drinks
And the children knew over 10 different brand names of energy drinks.
I was really surprised by this and will follow up to find out if this was a one off. I regularly talk to parents and young people about the established fizzy drink brands but I need to get a better idea if younger kids are drinking these drinks regularly. I think parents need to know how these drinks could affect their child’s behaviour and sleep.
Next week David and Sue will be in Nestles children’s centre (12th) and Harlington Secondary (13th). Like them on Facebook and come along. The events are hugely fun and the cauliflower mac and cheese is just awesome!
I’m running the final of the Young Chef of the year at Harefield Academy on Wednesday 13 February. It’s a yearly competition for secondary school age children and every year the standard is incredible. I’ll get some pictures of the winning dishes (before they get eaten!)