Canadian researchers say energy drinks 'negatively impact' health of youth, CBA says conclusion is 'misleading'

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Energy drinks Coffee

Crunching data from a web-based survey, researchers at the University of Waterloo reported a link between energy drink consumption and adverse health effects, but the Canadian Beverage Association said the study design's 'broad conclusions' were 'misleading'.

According to the researchers, over half of those surveyed who ever consumed an energy drink had reported experiencing an adverse health event such as rapid heartbeat, nausea, “and in rare cases, seizures.”

Published this month​ in the Canadian Medical Association Journal ​Open, the survey was conducted online in 2015 with a national sample of youth aged 12-17 years and young adults aged 18-24 years. The total sample included 2055 respondents.

Dr. David Hammond, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Waterloo, led the study.

“The adverse outcomes were consistent with the physiologic effects of caffeine but were significantly more prevalent than with other sources of caffeine such as coffee, consistent with data from national adverse event databases,”​ they argued in their report.

Hammond added: “The health effects from energy could be due to the different ingredients than coffee, or the ways in which they consumed, including with alcohol or during physical activity; regardless, the findings suggest a need to increase surveillance of health effects from these products."

CBA: Study grouped non-alcoholic caffeinated energy with ‘dissimilar non-food products’

In a statement emailed to NutraIngredients-USA, the Canadian Beverage Association, which includes energy drink makers Red Bull Canada and Rockstar Inc as members, called the conclusion “misleading.”

“The study published in the CMAJ Open groups non-alcoholic caffeinated energy drinks, regulated by Health Canada as foods, together with dissimilar non-food products, namely alcoholic beverages with caffeine and ‘energy shots,’” ​according to the statement.

Health Canada does not consider energy shots as a food item, but as a Natural Health Product (NHP). According to a Health Canada guidance​, “Health Canada has set the upper limit for the volume of an energy shot at 90 mL; therefore, caffeinated products that are pre-packaged, ready-to-consume, containing 90 mL or less, and meant to be consumed in a single dose, shall be classified as NHPs.”

According to CBA’s statement: “The research is clear, caffeinated energy drinks are now available in more than 165 countries and have been in the Canadian market place since 2004. Energy drinks have been thoroughly tested and are considered safe by the world’s leading health authorities.”

Source:​ CMAJ Open

Published online, doi: 10.9778/cmajo.20160154

“Adverse effects of caffeinated energy drinks among youth and young adults in Canada: a Web-based survey”

Authors: David Hammond, PhD; Jessica L. Reid, MSc; Sara Zukowski, BSc

Related topics Research

Related news

Follow us


View more


Nutra Champions Podcast

Nutra Champions Podcast