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French health agency warns of energy drink risks

AFP

A French health agency on Tuesday released a report which warns children and pregnant women against energy drinks such as Red Bull. Caffeinated beverages should not be consumed with alcohol or during exercise, the report added.

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Children and adolescents should avoid consuming energy drinks, which should not be paired with alcohol or consumed during intense physical activity, France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) said in a report published on Tuesday.

Children and adolescents are at risk of sleep disorders, feeling drowsy during the day, and of developing addictions to other psychoactive substances if their caffeine intake is too high, ANSES said.

Energy drinks were also ruled dangerous for pregnant women (risk of slowing fetal growth) and women who breastfeed (milk contaminated by caffeine), as well as for those with certain cardiovascular problems, psychiatric or neurological disorders (such as epilepsy) or people suffering from renal failure or severe liver disease.

The report highlighted hundreds of cases of people who suffered from adverse reactions after consuming energy drinks; some 257 cases were reported, of which 212 could be analysed.

"The role that caffeinated energy drinks [played] in 25 of these cases, or 12 % of the reports, was considered likely or very likely," ANSES Deputy Director of Health and Nutrition Franck Fourès told AFP.

Currently under investigation due to suspicion that they cause adverse reactions (such as heart conditions), energy drinks almost always contain caffeine (on average, the equivalent of 2 espressos per standard 250 ml can) and are likely to contain a combination of ginseng, taurine, guarana, vitamins and herbs.

In France, almost 9 million people over the age of 14 consume so-called 'energy drinks', a term that serves a purely marketing purpose without being subject to specific regulatory controls, according to ANSES.

The agency called for “moderate” consumption of caffeinated beverages, and for their promotion to be regulated, especially in contexts considered “risky” (such as at parties and for athletes).

France consumes around 40 million litres of energy drinks per year.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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