What you need to know about energy drinks:
Young workers, high physical demands, shift-work, long hours and repetitive tasks are the cocktail Safe & Healthy usually see when called on to discuss with a work site the overconsumption of “Energy Drinks”. Some employers are considering banning energy drinks from some sites due to rising health concerns around their super-caffeinated content, high sugar content and detrimental health effects.
So what impacts do they have onsite?
- SLEEP – Energy drinks can cause sleep issues in particular difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. Insomnia, which is the name for it, can be a very challenging problem to treat as a sleep health professional. It often requires multiple visits to a psychologist, heavy sedative medication and strict routines around your sleep. SO who wants this risk?
- DEHYDRATION – Our workers are often consuming them to cool down and pep up at the same time. Makes sense doesn’t it………If its 96 degrees in the shade, there is no way I am going to have that coffee I need to keep me going, so I will have this cold, caffeinated beveridge that is super sweet and tasty. Unfortunately, due to the high levels of caffeine in these drinks, this leads to loss of water in the body leading to dehydration and serious safety concerns.
- THE HEART – Over consumption of caffeine and other stimulants found in energy drinks can cause heart palpitations, high blood pressure and undue stress on the body. They have even caused heart attacks in young people who are particularly sensitive to the stimulant effect.
- THE BODY – Due to the high sugar content and meal substitution that these drinks commonly play, over consumption of these drinks can lead to weight gain and obesity.
OVERALL, they have their place but we commonly see them over consumed.
Whats in an energy drink?
Its not right to compare these drinks to coffee, they certainly pack more punch with other stimulants, and are usually in cans that are 500ml or greater which is half of the problem. Let’s focus on caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants which are doing the “damage”
Caffeine: we should aim for no more than 4 cups of coffee / day. Two cans of energy drink will put us just over the edge with caffeine, but that’s not the whole story is it……
Stimulants: each of these beverages contains additional stimulants that puts the body under more stress such as taurine (manufactured stimulant) guarana (stimulant) B Vitamins (stimulant) Ginseng (stimulant) and the list goes on. So its not right to compare these drinks to coffee. This is what the large beveridge companies do to make them seem harmless.
Sugar: One can of energy drink has an average 63 grams of sugar, that’s 2 Snickers bars.
Here is a great link to more information on whats in your energy drink:
Why are we consuming them?
Our workers are thirsty, they are a little tired, and they are hot.
Well the energy drink perfectly fills this need for our workers, it cools them down, quenches their thirst, and peps them up. Product positioning. Just like the coffee you are drinking right now, its socially acceptable for you to discuss the new quarterly report over a delicious lateé.
Its socially acceptable for our young blue collar workers to sit around at smoko and have a can of the latest and most popular energy drink. One that their favourite sporting stars are holding in their hand when they cross the finish line or jump over a burning car. In 2015, a research team at Griffith University, led by Dr Rebecca Loudoun found that around 40 per cent of blue collar workers consumed energy drinks. She added that on-site vending machine agreements and promotional site visits boosted the availability of the drinks.
“Energy drinks are essentially a cocktail of addictive caffeine with sugar,” Reported the President of the Australian Medical Association
There is no published, peer-reviewed study or otherwise that says consuming Energy drinks is safe. There are zero, zilch, published studies or peer-reviewed articles on this.
What can we do?
STEP 1: Lead with your leaders – if your managers are sipping on these drinks throughout the day, your employees will soon follow suit
STEP 2: Educate staff about the health consequences – A 45min seminar on hydration, education, and challenges of good health will certainly cement some thought process surrounding energy drink over-consumption.
STEP 3: Make it difficult to buy them – NO ENERGY DRINK VENDING MACHINES ONSITE
STEP 4: Offer alternative hydration and cooling solutions – There are some fantastic, great tasting hydration solutions out there. COLD WATER IS THE BEST, with some fresh lemon and lime wedges for taste make a great hydrations solution
We are certainly seeing a trend that has been developing for some years now, particularly amongst young workers in blue collar industry. We must take action to educate them on the consequences of over-consumption, the importance of hydration, and empower your onsite leaders to set the example. Check out our Sleep & Fatigue program if you think there is a larger issue at hand such as Shiftwork & Sleep, Insomnia, Obstructive sleep apnoea or poor education and ideas around Sleep.
Energy drinks have a place, but with their savy marketing and solving our workers needs, they are becoming a safety concern on sites around the world. If you would like further information or a hydrations seminar please don’t hesitate to contact us.