Energy drinks consumption report

English: It is a picture of a fridge full of e...
English: It is a picture of a fridge full of energy drinks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the end of 2011 an external study was commissioned by EFSA to the Consortium Nomisma-Areté, with the objective of gathering consumption data for “energy” drinks (ED) in specific consumer groups (adults, adolescents and children) in EU). The study had also examined the co-consumption with alcohol, or consumption associated with intense physical exercise, and the total caffeine exposure of the consumers.

This study might be very useful in the forthcoming EFSA assessment on the safety of caffeine. The survey involved more than 52,000 people from 16 of the 27 Member States, which were selected to give an adequate coverage of the EU population and of different consumption patterns.

The key findings from the study are as follows:

  • Adults (18-65 years): Approximately 30% of adults interviewed were consumers of “energy” drinks.  Among these, about 12% were “high chronic” consumers (regularly consuming on 4-5 days a week or more), with an average consumption of 4.5 litres a month. About 11% of consumers were “high acute” consumers (drinking at least 1 litre in a single session).
  • Adolescents (10-18 years): Approximately 68% of those interviewed were consumers of “energy” drinks.  Among these, about 12% were “high chronic” consumers, with an average consumption of 7 litres a month, and 12% were “high acute” consumers.
  • Children (3-10 years): Approximately 18% of those interviewed were consumers of “energy” drinks. Among these, around 16% were “high chronic” consumers, with average consumption of 0.95 litres a week (almost 4 litres per month).
  • Co-consumption with alcohol: Combined consumption patterns among adult (56%) and adolescent consumers (53%) were similar.
  • Consumption associated with sporting activities: Approximately 52% of adult and 41% of adolescent consumers said they consumed “energy” drinks while undertaking sporting activity.
  • Contribution of “energy” drinks to total caffeine exposure: Approximately 8% for adult, 13% for adolescents and 43% for children consumers.

The study was commissioned after some Member State representatives expressed concerns to the Authority’s Advisory Forum about the growth in popularity of “energy” drinks in Europe and the consequent potential exposure to caffeine and other ingredients, particularly among children and adolescents, but I think it can be also be related to recent deaths in USA possibly linked to energy drinks and high exposure to caffeine.

Due to the exponential growth rate which characterised the ED market over the last years, the study team suggests to monitor possible further increases in ED consumption and eventually consider the possibility to update the study.

Her you can find the full report.

Some notes about the substances under exam might be useful:

Caffeine is a stimulant present in many beverages and food products: “energy” drinks can contain between 70 and 400 mg a litre and sometimes more. The main effects of caffeine derive from stimulation of the central neural system, which helps to increase alertness and concentration.

Taurine is an amino acid produced naturally by the human body which has some role in cardiovascular, central nervous system and skeletal muscle functions.

D-glucurono-y-lactone is a chemical naturally produced by the human body and present as part of the structural component of connective tissues.

Here you can find a statement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on adverse event reports allegedly related to energy “drinks” and supplements.

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