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Health warning over energy drinks

Do not mix with alcohol or exercise and do not drink if pregnant or young says food agency

THE SIDE effects of energy drinks should be made known among the general public, according to the French food agency Anses.

The agency has issued a warning that pregnant and breast feeding women should avoid the drinks, as should teenagers and children.

It has also recommended that people should not mix the drinks with alcohol, or drink them while doing exercise.

Anses claims energy drinks can "cause serious heart problems among people with certain genetic predispositions” that affect 1 in 1000 people and are generally not diagnosed.

As well as its own warnings, it recommends that stricter laws be placed on advertising such drinks, keeping brands away from sporting events and festivals.

Anses has counted more than 100 types of energy drink on the market in France.

One 250 ml can of energy drink is the caffeine equivalent of two 50ml expressos, or more than two cans of cola.

In June 2012 Anses asked doctors for reports on the side effects of energy drinks and has since compiled a dossier of 212 cases that have enough evidence for more detailed investigation.

The side effects noted include heart problems, anxiety, chest pains and panic attacks.

Anses says that, although there is a wide range of sensitivity towards caffeine, it estimates that 30% of the population in France consumes enough to push themselves into states of anxiety (around six expressos).

In terms of use, Anses found 32% of drinkers drank energy drinks at bars, concerts and nightclubs, 16% mixed them with alcohol and 41% drank them during sporting activities.

Deputy Gérard Bapt, a member of the National Assembly finance committee, said he would propose a 50 centimes tax on drinks containing more than 220 mg of caffeine or 300 mg of taurine per litre.

Photo: Flickr/Matteo Paciotti Photography

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