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Energy Drinks: When do they pose a risk?

07/2016, 10.02.2016

Sixth edition of the interactive online format "Consumers ask - the BfR responds" launched

The sixth online dialogue forum of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) entitled "Energy Drinks: When do they pose a risk?" has been launched. "Energy drinks can lead to unwanted health effects, particularly if consumers drink large quantities of them, mix them with alcohol, don’t get enough sleep, or exert themselves physically, says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "In order to raise awareness of these risks particularly among young people, we are now covering the topic in our online dialogue forum." Consumers have the possibility to submit any question on this topic via the BfR website until 19 February 2016. The BfR will then answer the three most frequently selected questions in a video.

Energy drinks are supposed to have a stimulating effect - notably through the ingredient caffeine. In addition, other substances such as glucuronolactone, inositol and taurine are often used. So-called energy shots are offered in smaller unit portions than energy drinks. However, they contain significantly higher caffeine quantities per litre than energy drinks.

Some case reports describe severe damage health and even death following the consumption of energy drinks. However, no clear evidence of causality has so far been presented. The caffeine contained in energy drinks stimulates the cardiovascular and central nervous system. Large intake of caffeine can lead to unwanted effects such as increased nervousness, palpitations, cardiac arrhythmia and increased blood pressure.

From the viewpoint of the BfR, health risks can occur when energy drinks or energy shots are consumed in high amounts. In addition, there are indications that simultaneous consumption of energy drinks and large quantities of alcohol and / or intensive physical activity in particular may increase the risk of negative health effects. Certain consumer groups such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and caffeine-sensitive persons should refrain from consuming such energy drinks.

Consumers can ask their questions about the health risks posed by energy drinks until 19 February 2016 online at http://www.bfr.bund.de/de/sie_fragen.html. After the question period during one week, users have the opportunity to assess all questions submitted. The BfR will then answer the three most frequently selected questions on the health risks of energy drinks in a video. The dialogue forum has been an integral part of the BfR website since 2011.
Further information on the effects of caffeine as well as a „caffeine meter“ are given (in german) on the information portal of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL):

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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