Widespread adolescent energy drink use is strongly associated with substance use later in life, finds an alarming research. “Nearly one-third of US adolescents consume high-caffeine energy drinks or ‘shots’. These teens also report higher rates of alcohol, cigarette or other drugs use,” said Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath, from the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.

During my visit to Zurich, I drank my first energy drink way back in 1995. For me it was not a good experience as my heart palpitation was high and I felt more lethargic after few hours. The energy drinks were not marketed in India that time. The Indian energy drink industry scenario has changed gradually in the last decade.

In India, energy drinks are marketed as Sports drinks among the young sports persons, primarily focusing on sports events to sell the energy drinks. Energy drinks in India grew by 17% in value terms in 2011. There is an increasing awareness of the side-effects of energy drinks in India. In June 2012 the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) announced that energy drinks will be renamed as “caffeinated beverages”. The permissible limit of caffeine in carbonated beverages according to FSSAI is 145 parts per million. Brands, such as Red Bull and Burn, surpass this limit. Hence according to FSSAI they should be named as caffeinated beverages. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.

In India, energy drinks are very popular among young people and are consumed mostly by athletes, gym enthusiasts, socialite to stay awake for studying or partying when they need sleep naturally. The metros and bigger cities are prima targets of the energy drink industry.

About 78% of adolescents in urban areas of India consume at least one dietary supplement such as pills, energy drinks, steroids and high-protein powders, says a survey by industry body ASSOCHHAM. This is a disturbing trend among young people in India.

Another cross section study called ‘Perception and practices related to consumption of energy drinks among regular and non-regular young consumers’ and conducted among students in India found that there were more frequent consumers among students (47%) than in the working age group (14.6%). Young adults (92%) were more frequent consumers than adolescents. It was also found that a significant number of participants from high socio-economic groups (71%) reported higher consumption of energy drinks than those in the middle and low-income groups.
According to the study, a 53.3% of those studied were introduced to energy drinks by their peers. Participants in the survey mostly consumed energy drinks when hanging out with friends (56.1%), at parties (43.3%), due to fatigue (36.1%) and before performances (28.8%).

According to an estimate, over 70% of retail sales of energy drinks are in restaurants, pubs and night clubs. Therefore, there is danger according to health experts combining alcohol with energy drinks, since alcohol is a depressant and energy drink is a stimulant.  Having them together may limit one’s body’s ability to realise how much alcohol one has consumed, as it’ll give the feeling that you are not impaired and lead to intoxication. Also it can cause dehydration and other severe conditions.

According to Dr. Michael O. Smith a psychiatrist from New York, energy drinks have no value in any system of health. Since it has no food value the word “Energy” describes an illusion.  It creates craving and obsessive desire to have more and has no realistic benefits. It never helps people to work better. But the industry always tries to find new ways, for example through labelling and branding to create dependency.

This is really a serious trend among the young, that parents and teachers need to be sensitised about:  “The myth that energy drinks give extra energy should be dispelled,” scientists said at the 45th National Conference of the Nutrition Society of India (NSI). Not only are those “energy drinks” not healthy, they are even unhealthy. On top of that, they are obviously gateways into the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Now time has come to offer each other healthy food and drinks, a  natural source of vitality that nature has provided us, which are far better than the so-called “Energy Drinks”  Let us try Magic Drink

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