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Energy Drinks May Contribute to Obesity

Energy Drinks May Contribute to Obesity

Wednesday, May 3rd 2006

New research shows energy drinks containing high levels of sugar and caffeine maybe contributing to New Zealanders' expanding waistlines.

AUT Professor of Nutrition Elaine Rush has completed a groundbreaking study that found an energy drink containing sugar, added caffeine and guarana (which also contains caffeine) causes the body to convert sugar into fat more rapidly than lemonade.

"These results could have huge implications when you think about how much sugar and caffeine people consume these days, and the high rates of inactivity," she says.

Professor Rush led the projects' team, which included AUT researcher Dr Vladimir Obolonkin and student Stephanie Schulz, Professor David Simmons from Auckland University's Waikato Clinical School and Dr Lindsay Plank of Auckland University's Department of Surgery.

They recruited 10 healthy women aged 18 to 22 from a range of ethnicities. The subjects fasted overnight and were randomly given either 250ml of an energy drink or lemonade on the first day and the alternative on the second day of testing. Lemonade was chosen because while both drinks contain the same amount of sugar and are carbonated, it doesn't contain caffeine.

"When the women drank either the energy drink or lemonade, the sugar was absorbed into their systems within a minute, giving them an immediate sugar rush," Professor Rush says. "I knew it would be quick, but I was surprised at just how fast it happened and could be detected from their breath.

"Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and evidence from this study shows that, coupled with a large amount of caffeine, the body rapidly turns it into stored fat."

The energy drink contains 28g sucrose and 81mg caffeine per 250ml can, which is similar to the amount of sugar in soft drinks and caffeine in a brewed cup of coffee.

Professor Rush says there is a place for everything in people's diet, but she is worried about the health effects on people who consume too much of these high-sugar, highly caffeinated products.

"Simple carbohydrates and caffeine were not such a large parts of our diet in the past. Inactive people have trouble burning off excess energy and this leads to weight gain. And of course, greater weight means more stress on the body, if the person is unfit."

While caffeine has recently been recognized as enhancing physical performance, energy drinks may not be beneficial for energy balance.

"These drinks are often marketed as energy-boosters and may be perceived as helpful for weight loss. This is misleading - they are a calorie-booster and may actually cause weight gain."

Professor Rush recognizes the study's limitations with its small sample size and the fact the subjects were all young women, but says its results are important as this area has not been explored before.

"There has been a great deal of research about sugar and obesity, but not the synergy between drinks and fat stores.

"This study also raises questions about the effects of consuming high-sugar foods and highly caffeinated drinks together in a short period of time."

Source, North Shore Times, Tuesday September 6, 2005

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Energy:

Clean Lean Protein Vanilla
Deer Velvet
Guarana Ginseng 4000
Ginseng 5 Exhaustion Relief
Hi-Strength Q10 Absorb
Multi 100
Super Multi Plus
Super B Daily Stress +
Superior Iron
Whey Protein - Vanilla

Related health information can be found here:

Adrenal Support
Co-enzyme Q10 is of fundamental importance for cellular energetics
Foods to help detoxification
Guarana, an energy booster
Looking for a sugar alternative? Try Stevia
Protein - a macronutrient so often overlooked
Water, the elixir of life

Related articles can be found here:

Detox Your Body - Improve Your Energy
Drinks in a Fix Over Caffeine
NADH: Energy Incarnate
Siberian Ginseng
Top Marks to Water-only School
Vitamin B100

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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