Intended for healthcare professionals


Energy drinks for children and adolescents

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 15 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5268
  1. W H Oddy, associate professor,
  2. T A O’Sullivan, senior nutrition research officer
  1. 1Division of Population Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, PO Box 855, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia
  1. wendyo{at}

    Erring on the side of caution may reduce long term health risks

    Energy drinks have catapulted to popularity with young consumers. Clever marketing has been the key, with companies playing on associations with danger, power, and youth culture. The business of “liquid energy” has grown exponentially, with nearly 200 brands of energy drinks available in more than 140 countries. Energy drinks represent a rapidly expanding segment of the beverage industry, and 31% of 12-17 year olds have reported regular consumption of the drinks.1

    Energy drinks are set apart from other soft drinks and sports drinks by their high caffeine content and their promotion as a way to relieve fatigue and improve performance.2 Most energy drinks contain about 80 mg of caffeine per 250 ml can, although some contain as much as 300 mg.3 In comparison, the same amount of tea contains around 30 mg, and percolated coffee contains 90 mg.

    Caffeine is a widely used addictive drug that is generally recognised as safe. It stimulates the central and peripheral nervous system and is the only psychoactive drug legally available to children.4 At moderate intakes, caffeine can enhance endurance …

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