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Canadian Health Officials to Study Adverse Effects of Energy Drinks

Health Minister Ted Flemming of New Brunswick, Canada, has asked the province’s chief medical officer of health to look into concerns about the adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on children.

Dr. Eilish Cleary will work with stakeholders on the issue, Flemming said in a statement.

The Department of Health will also host a one-day meeting later this year to discuss ways to minimize the potential risks of the caffeinated drinks.

“Energy drinks can be a source of concern, especially because of their popularity among minors,” said Flemming.

“That is why I am asking our chief medical officer of health to look into this issue and weigh the impact energy drinks can have on the health of young New Brunswickers.”

The sale of energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages is already prohibited at New Brunswick schools.

They are, however, readily available at convenience stores and grocery stores.

Energy drinks contain caffeine, the amino acid taurine, sugar, and may contain herbs, such as guarana and yerba mate, which also increase the caffeine content, according to the chief medical officer of health.

Caffeine is known to cause anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and insomnia. It can affect blood pressure and heart rate. At higher doses, it can cause delirium, neuromuscular tremors, and convulsions, said Cleary.

“Parents should be aware that children are at an increased risk of experiencing these symptoms when consuming energy drinks,” said Cleary.

“Health problems can also arise when too many energy drinks are consumed, when they are combined with alcohol, or when they are used during or after intense exercise,” she added.

Last April, member of the legislative assembly Bill Fraser introduced a private member’s bill that would require anyone who sells the highly caffeinated drinks to warn the buyer of their dangers by posting a sign, much like the ones used for cigarette smoking.

Fraser said the next step might be prohibiting sale to those under age 18.

As of late last year, Health Canada had received 86 reports of adverse reactions to energy drinks. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States was investigating reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to so-called “energy shots.”

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