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Young Finns have taken a fancy to energy drinks
The Finns consumed nearly nine million litres of energy drinks last year. Young people in particular have been taken with the drinks that they feel speed up recovery from sporting activities and help to cope with life’s stresses and strains.
According to beverage company Hartwall, the consumption of energy drinks rose by more than 40 per cent between 2005 and 2007.
The beverage-type’s popularity is even manifested in the shoplifting statistics. Last week in Tampere’s Pirkkala district a group of young people was temporarily denied access to the local Valintatalo grocery store because of increased shoplifting. Energy drinks were among the products that had been targeted.
One reason for the pilferage may be the energy drinks’ high shelf price. A 30 cl can of energy drink such as Battery or Red Bull may cost up to EUR 2.50.
The effect of a can of energy drink can more or less be obtained by adding 3-4 lumps of sugar to a cup of coffee, estimates Mikael Fogelholm, docent of dietetics and nutrition and director of Health Research at the Academy of Finland.
“Energy comes from sugar. From artificially sweetened drinks one does not really get energy at all.”
According to Fogelholm, energy drinks are actually refined soft drinks.
“If one has not eaten properly nor had enough sleep, an energy drink on an empty stomach may cause a temporary feeling of hyperactivity.”
Fogelholm regards the image of a miracle-working drink created by marketing experts as a false trail.
The Finnish Dental Association goes further and warns that acidic drinks are especially harmful to the teeth of the young.
“Sugary drinks cause caries, and even artificially sweetened drinks are so acidic that they erode teeth”, warns dental expert Helinä Keskinen of the Finnish Dental Association.
Keskinen points out that the enamel of children and young adutls is more susceptible to damage than the enamel of the adult population.
According to nutritional and dental experts, energy drinks do more harm than good when consumed in connection with sporting activities.
“If the mouth is already dry, the acidity of the drink is even tougher on the teeth”, Keskinen says.
“Energy drinks do not improve performance, because the sugar in them is not easily absorbed. Energy drinks were not designed as sports drinks and they should not be used as such”, Fogelholm emphasises.
The stimulating effect of the so-called energy drinks is based on the combination of caffeine, sugar, taurine, and guarana.
The effect usually lasts for a couple of hours, depending on the amount of caffeine and the person’s metabolism.
The amount of caffeine in the energy drinks sold in Finland varies from 30 to 110 mg per can. A cup of filtered coffee contains 90 to 110 mg of caffeine.
The pH-value of an energy drink is between 2.4 and 3.3. All drinks with a pH-value lower than 5.5 are considered harmful to teeth.
Last year 8.7 million litres of energy drinks were sold in Finland. The corresponding figure for the year before was 6 million litres.