Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Concerns about the safety of energy drinks prompted a recent study to find intervention strategies targeted at young people to reduce consumption of the drinks.
Energy drinks can cause headaches, anxiety, sleep problems, nausea, seizures, cardiac abnormalities and sudden death. The drinks contain caffeine and other ingredients that are marketed to improve energy, concentration, performance and metabolism.
Energy drinks account for more than $30 billion in sales from over 160 countries worldwide. Data from the United States and Australia show that caffeine overdoses and adverse reactions to energy drinks are on the rise among adolescents.
The study, published in the October edition of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that policy changes that target energy drink sales, price, packaging and visibility could be effective at reducing consumption in adolescents and young adults.
"We found confusion surrounding energy drinks, which suggests educational campaigns are needed to increase young people's knowledge," Jacinta Francis, of Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia, said in a press release.
"Likewise, interventions are needed to raise awareness about potential consequences of energy drinks and promote alternative ways to improve energy levels, such as good nutrition, physical activity, and adequate sleep."
Researchers interviewed 41 people age 12 to 25 about their consumption of energy drinks.
Participants were familiar with energy drinks and reported easy access to them, but some were not aware they contained caffeine and sugar. Increased energy was the primary reason for drinking the beverages, followed by taste -- however, taste was also a deterrent for some.
Researchers found that understanding the ingredients and health effects was also a deterrent for some participants in consuming energy drinks.
From the interviews and group discussions, participants came up with five strategies to reduce consumption of energy drinks by adolescents including restrictions on the sale and availability, increasing the price, changing packaging, reducing visibility in stores and doing more research and education.
"From the five key interventions identified by participants, those relating to research and education may need to be targeted to specific age groups," Francis said. "In addition, it would be helpful to implement and evaluate policies that regulate the marketing and promotion of energy drinks, as well as advocating for changes to warning labels and ingredients. Finally, implementing an adverse event reporting system, such as mandatory recording of hospital admissions related to energy drinks, may assist researchers and policy makers."