Feeling flat? Then don’t reach for an “energy drink” to get your blood pumping because a new study shows that it has the opposite effect.
A single energy drink significantly impairs blood vessel function‚ the researchers found.
When healthy young adults had an energy drink their “artery flow-mediated dilation” fell on average from 5.1% in diameter to 2.8% in diameter‚ measured 90 minutes later by an ultrasound.
This is the latest study to warn that energy drinks – typically high in sugar and caffeine – could do more harm than good. They have been linked to heart‚ nerves‚ kidney and stomach problems.
Dr John Higgins from McGovern Medical School in the US‚ and his team recruited 44 non-smoking‚ healthy medical students in their 20s for the experiment. They each drank a 24-ounce (about 710ml) energy drink‚ before their endothelial (blood vessel) function was tested.
“As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular‚ it is important to study the effects of these drinks…and better determine what‚ if any‚ is a safe consumption pattern‚” Higgins said‚ after the findings.
A major review of the safety of energy drinks‚ released a year ago‚ found “serious health risks” associated with the colourful drinks‚ which are marketed to a young and active audience.
Dr Josiemer Mattei‚ from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health‚ said their evidence suggested energy drinks were “harmful to health and should be limited through more stringent regulation by restricting their sales to children and adolescents”‚ as well as restricting the amount of caffeine in them.
Some had as much as eight times more caffeine per ounce than regular coffee.
“They are often marketed as a healthy beverage that people can adopt to improve their energy‚ stamina‚ athletic performance and concentration‚ but our review shows there are important health consequences.
“Little is known about many of their non-nutritive stimulants such as guarana and taurine‚” said Mattei.
She also raised problems with risk-taking behaviour‚ such as substance misuse and aggression – given the trend is to mix them with alcohol – and with mental health problems like anxiety and stress.
“We conclude that there is currently enough evidence to suggest that the negative health consequences of drinking energy drinks outweigh any potential short-term benefits.”
The latest research‚ on how they impact blood vessels‚ was presented on Monday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.
Scientists and clinicians at this meeting also presented research that:
People who weighed themselves daily were more likely to lose weight than those who did not;
Smoking hookah tobacco impairs blood vessel function;
Only a few adults with an inherited heart condition (thickened muscle) had negative effects from pursuing thrill-seeking behaviours like riding roller coasters;
Eating Brazil nuts and other types of nuts could assist in preventing weight gain and have cardiovascular benefits; and
Paediatricians don’t usually address raised blood pressure and its risks in overweight children.