The popularity of energy drinks among school-aged children in the Czech Republic is a growing concern, given the potential health risks associated with excessive consumption. These beverages, which contain taurine, caffeine, and sugar, are as easy to buy as sweetened lemonade, and their excessive consumption can lead to sleep disorders, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Medical professionals are urging parents to be aware of this issue, as there have been several cases of young people collapsing after drinking these beverages.
Emergency services report several cases each month of young people experiencing health issues due to these drinks. “Most patients describe their state as feeling unwell, with a racing heart, sweating, and an increased heart rate,” said Michaela Bothova, South Moravian paramedic spokeswoman. These symptoms can become life-threatening when the drink is combined with alcohol or substances such as kratom, which is popular among minors.
The risks associated with these beverages are significant. One can of an energy drink is a high-energy bomb, not just due to the high sugar content, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but mainly due to the caffeine. “Excess caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns, lead to behavioral disorders, disturb mental well-being, and acutely, in the case of consuming a large dose at once, can also lead to heart rhythm disorders and breathing difficulties,” said Eliška Selinger, a nutritional epidemiologist at the State Health Institute.
A mug of coffee or black tea contains significantly less caffeine than one can of energy drinks. Consuming just two cans surpasses the recommended daily maximum caffeine intake for children, which can lead to long-term sleep and mental health issues.
The current trend is alarming. At least twice a week, a tenth of children aged 13 to 15 consume energy drinks. Every day, over three percent of schoolchildren drink them.
According to Josef Pavlovic, Deputy Minister of Health, consideration is being given to regulating or limiting the sale of these drinks. Some options include limiting advertising, changing the appearance of the packaging, or setting up a fund to which manufacturers would contribute to an awareness campaign.
“We do not want to regulate usage in people over 18 in any way, but we consider it health risky for younger people,” emphasized Pavlovic.