Energy Drinks and dental health

When teenagers and young people are drinking a standard 500ml energy drink, they may as well sit down and eat 21 teaspoons of sugar.

The energy drink Rockstar in a 500mL serving contains almost 83 grams of sugar and 160 mg of caffeine. Mother (Coca Cola Amatil) in a 500ml serve has 13 teaspoons of sugar and 160mg of caffeine.  Even the 250mL cans of Red Bull and Mother have 7 teaspoons of sugar and 80mg of caffeine.  Leading health and community organisations such as Diabetes Australia, The Heart Foundation, The Cancer Council, Nutrition Australia and Rethink Sugary Drink Campaign, issuing warnings about the health risks. Energy drink consumption in Australia and New Zealand has increased from 34 million litres in 2001 to 155 million litres in 2010 (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Health organisations in Australia, are calling for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks, a public education campaign and restrictions on sales in schools and sports arenas.

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In the short term, energy drinks create alertness, stimulation of the nervous system and an increased heart rate, due to the caffeine. Excessive consumption can cause insomnia, nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations. Longer term they are described as a risky drink choice when students are drinking several a day during exams, with the high sugar content in energy drinks increasing the risk of weight gain, increasing the risk of heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. Furthermore, energy drinks contribute heavily to tooth decay and erosion, where the acid in the drinks is softening the tooth enamel and dissolving it, and the sugar is then allowing attack of the vulnerable tooth structure. In some cases there is rampant decay and severe wear of the tooth structure, with all of the enamel stripped from the teeth.