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Australian doctor calls for a ban on energy drinks

Posted by: 3AW Afternoons | 24 October, 2012 - 4:02 PM
Energy drink

A leading Australian doctor has called for a ban on energy drinks after a teenager's death in the United States.

The family of Anais Fournier, 14, is suing the Californian maker of Monster Energy after the teenager died from heart arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity that complicated a diagnosed heart disorder.

3AW Health expert Dr Ross Walker says the ingredients in energy drinks increase the heart rate and blood pressure which can have fatal consequences.

“The problem is there are a proportion of children who are walking around the streets who have underlying heart conditions that haven’t been detected up to this point,” he told Denis Walter

“These drinks with the amount of caffeine in them can certainly bring out those problems and unfortunately in some cases can be lethal.

"I think these things should be banned."

If you would like to learn more about the dangers of energy drinks please listen to Dr Ross Walkers full segment on the 3AW Afternoon program below.

LISTEN: Dr Ross Walker with Denis Walter:

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Denis Walter's Afternoons page

Denis Walter 3AW Afternoons provides a feast of entertainment and helpful information between 12 and 4pm every Monday to Friday. Denis Walter, one of 3AW's favourites, hosts the program each day - with highlights regularly uploaded to 3AW.com.au.


Blog comments Your Say

  • Thanks Jake.

    Agree volume is important and we regulalry talk about "how much and how often". From your references it sounds like you're drawing on US examples. This is one of the problems with the current discussion because the US products are significantly different from the Australian versions.

    Re volumes, you're right there is a big difference. But in reverse to what you're suggesting. You might be surprised to know how much coffee is sold globally...around 500 billion cups each year. That's a lot! Energy drinks are a fraction of that and here in Australia represent only 2.5% of the total non-alcoholic beverage marekt.

    Interestingly coffee is the world's second most traded commodity behind petroleum. So some objectivity in the debate is important, you're right.

    Hope this sheds some light on the context of the debate.


    Geoff Parker Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 1:21 PM
  • My small business started making an alternative to energy drinks this year. Called Vegas Night it has no added caffeine, and no artificial stimulants or colouring. We used sugar but have been able to reduce the amount of sugar used by adding manuka honey.

    S Holland Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 12:51 PM
  • Well said Geoff, too true. These drinks, called 'energy drink' simply as a marketing exercise. These contain no more harmful ingredients than a can of Coke.... How do I know? I worked for a period in Europe and the Worlds number One Energy drink manufacturers. It's interesting what marketing does. Love the pricing of these too... it's just soft drink, they're not expensive at all to manufacture.

    Mark Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 8:44 PM
  • @Geoff Parker, to an extent you are correct and I guess you are just doing your job. But you need to compare volume for volume and how drinks are consumed.

    Coffee tends not to be sculled as you often see those that are consuming energy drinks and coke/pepsi. So actual consumption of caffeine via energy drinks can for that reason alone be much greater.

    Not sure what an average cup of coffee is but according to the Mayo Clinic (2011 report) a 1-shot expresso 30 ml (1 oz) has 40-75 mg of caffeine and a 240 ml(8 oz) McDonalds coffee has 100 mg of caffeine. A Starbucks latte at 240 ml has 150 mg of caffeine.

    Now let's compare that to Five Hour Energy drink for which 80 ml as 207 mg of caffeine while more mild energy drinks such as Red Bull 250 ml has around 80 mg.

    I see people of all ages downing energy drinks to quench their thirsts! So that exponentialy raises caffeine intake. Not sure too many scull coffee to quench their thirst.

    The subtext question is whether caffeine which may be the drug of the Internet Age being cheap, legal, and available absolutely everywhere will see coffee replaced by energy drinks such as 5 Hour Energy Drink and Red Bull.

    So your comments are to a degree correct, but you need to be a little more objective, less spin and consider that there is a big difference between coffee and energy drinks by volume consumed.

    So I think Dr Walker makes a valid case to consider.

    Jake Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 7:48 PM
  • Dr Ross, please do your research. The caffeine in energy drinks is capped and the same as a cup of coffee. So does your call for a ban extend to coffees and coffee shops? What about tea, or chocolate or cola? They all contain caffeine. And if the sugar combination is your angle, what about the sugar-free versions with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee but no sugar? Are these ok? Probably not given your penchant for "a good couple cups of coffee a day".

    Keep the debate balanced.

    Geoff Parker
    CEO - Australian Beverages Council

    Geoff Parker Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 6:07 PM
  • Totally agree; these super-saturated drinks have been known for ages to be dangerous. It was irresponsible for the "relevant department" (Health??) to permit their sale.

    David T. Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 5:52 PM

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