Energy Drinks Consumers Beware

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Paul Orhii, director general of NAFDAC

Nigerians who are in the habit of consuming energy drinks now flooding the Nigerian market are being deceived into taking high levels of a stimulant known as caffeine which has destructive health effects

By Chinwe Okafor  |  Aug. 11, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

ARE you in love with energy drinks? If so, you are endangering your life by taking caffeinated drinks fondly called energy drinks. The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, is worried over the proliferation of energy drinks in the country. The agency said that the influx of the so-called energy beverages in various flavours into the country had become worrisome. Manufacturers claim that the drinks are meant to give extra energy to those who take them.

But in a message posted on its official Facebook page, NAFDAC has warned consumers of such drinks presumably designed for athletes and individuals who want an extra energy that they were being deceived into taking high levels of a stimulant known as caffeine. NAFDAC said it had become necessary to express its concern for the safety of consumers of such products.

According to the regulatory agency, the high level of caffeine present in a large quantity of energy drinks sold in Nigeria was believed to be responsible for the adverse health effects on consumers. It added that it would not lose focus on its mission to safeguard the health of Nigerians and that it would ensure that only the right quality of food, drugs and other regulated products were manufactured, exported, imported, advertised and used in Nigeria.

Energy drinks
Energy drinks

Further studies on energy drinks flooding the Nigerian market has shown that the calorie levels present vary from eight for sugar-free to 120 for drinks with added sugars, but the average soft drink contains 140 calories and this implies that energy drinks do not provide more energy in calories than the ordinary soft drink. The agency said: “Although caffeine could go a long way in boosting the heart rate and blood pressure, yet it can sometimes have devastating effects on consumers ranging from insomnia to abnormality of the heartbeat.”

According to the agency, plans were in an advanced stage to encourage energy drink manufacturers to make use of herbal extracts and other ingredients that can actually lead to increased energy when consumed.  It will be recalled that last year, the House of Representatives equally raised an alarm on the dangers of taking energy drinks in the country. Against this background, the House directed its committees on Health and Commerce to investigate the importation, distribution and sales of the drinks as well as the health implications of their consumption in Nigeria.

Yaccob Adebiosu, a member of the committee, who raised the motion, said energy drinks containing caffeine, sugar, high fructose, corn syrup, herbs and other substances were available everywhere on campuses, bars, dance clubs and social functions across the country. “Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Power Horse, Vault, Red Alert, Burn, among others, contain high levels of ingredients and stimulants that pose dangerous health risks such as kidney damages, seizures, strokes and life threatening effects on blood pressure, heart and brain functions.

“These drinks, when mixed with alcoholic drinks, become more deadly as they tend to mask the level of intoxication already settled in the bodies of the consumers of this mixture, thereby allowing young adults to consume much more alcohol than normal. This, often times, leads to the death of young people after such in-take and also an increase in road accidents involving such people,” he said.

The lawmaker listed Germany, Norway, France and Denmark among some of the countries that had banned the sale of the drinks within their territories as a result of the health risks caused by their consumption including reported cases of deaths. Equally, medical practitioners in the country have joined the National Assembly and NAFDAC in calling on Nigerians to abstain from energy drinks. According to them, consumers of all caffeinated drinks stand the risk of over stimulating their hearts. Such stimulation leads to over activity and abnormal reading of the heart. Wale Oke, a medical practitioner in Lagos, said the consumption of energy drinks can cause high blood pressure and such beverages should be treated as drugs.

According to Oke, energy drinks have been able to penetrate the Nigerian market and are being treated as beverages and this probably explains NAFDAC has not carried out rigorous and extensive research on them. “These drinks contain caffeine which can cause individuals with health challenges to become hypertensive. Consumption of the drinks can also increase blood pressure or cause abnormal heart rate,” Oke said, adding that non-sugar energy drinks have been directly linked with blood clot formations in the human body and have been banned by some European countries.

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