Journal of Food and Nutrition Research
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Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2020, 8(1), 33-38
DOI: 10.12691/jfnr-8-1-5
Open AccessReview Article

Energy Drink Mechanisms of Harm in Young People and Adolescents: A Narrative Review

Manal Alhumud1, , Simon Moore2, 3 and Kelly Morgan4

1School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK CF14 4RE

2Violence and Society Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4RE, UK

3Crime and Security Research Institute, Friary House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AE, UK

4Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF10 3BD, UK

Pub. Date: January 20, 2020

Cite this paper:
Manal Alhumud, Simon Moore and Kelly Morgan. Energy Drink Mechanisms of Harm in Young People and Adolescents: A Narrative Review. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2020; 8(1):33-38. doi: 10.12691/jfnr-8-1-5


Caffeinated energy drink (ED) consumption has grown rapidly worldwide, particularly among young people. This review considers whether the health outcomes associated with young people’s energy drink consumption are too narrowly focused on physiological mechanisms, and whether there is evidence to support the hypothesis that energy drink consumption incurs broader social costs. A narrative review of studies published between 1997 and 2017 was undertaken. The focus was the behavioural, physical and mental health outcomes associated with sugar (including glucose, sucrose and fructose) and caffeine, the two main ingredients of EDs. Possible causal mechanisms linking ingredient to outcome are discussed. The population of interest was children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 years of age. A total of 33 studies were identified. ED consumption was found to be associated with health problems including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, headaches, sleep disorder, substance use, stress and hyperactivity however causal relationships could not be determined for all outcomes. The caffeine and sugar contained in EDs can promote adverse effects on children and adolescents. There is a weak evidence that these effects could extend beyond physical health to educational attainment, mental health and substance use. Increased awareness and further prospective studies are required.

energy drinks children adolescents caffeine health outcomes

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