Doctors and parents back Dubai school's Prime Energy drink warning

Health experts have sounded the alarm over excessive consumption of energy drinks

Logan Paul, left, and KSI at an event to promote a Prime drink product in London last year. AP
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Doctors and parents have backed a Dubai school's ban of the popular Prime Energy drink, a can of which contains double the recommended daily caffeine intake for children.

Gems World Academy wrote to parents this week to warn of the potential side effects of excessive consumption of the drink, including increased heart rate, anxiety and addiction.

The brightly coloured cans and bottled drinks brand - founded and heavily promoted by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI - has been in high demand around the globe.

Although the company's own website states its energy drink should not be consumed by under 18s, the appeal of the social media stars to younger people has raised concerns.

I think those under 18 should not have access to these drinks
Dr Kiran Kumar Rai

Dr Kiran Kumar Rai, head of department and a specialist paediatrician at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told The National that some of his young patients have experienced symptoms including anxiety, high blood pressure and heart rate and depression after regularly consuming energy drinks.

Hooked on energy drinks

“Many of these children admit that they take these beverages to have an energy boost," said Dr Rai.

“They usually start with one drink due to peer pressure. Their friends will recommend saying it will keep them awake for the exams or make them more energy and stamina during sports tournament. Then it soon becomes an addiction."

He said most of the energy drinks available on the market contain excess sugar, caffeine, sodium and stimulants.

“The upper limit of caffeine for children per day is 100mg and 400mg for adults. But some of these drinks have more than the allowed limit, and it is not iterated. Imagine, children drinking several of these cans a day," he said.

“They are unable to sleep at night and develop anxiety and even depression.”

Commending the school for taking action, Dr Rai said teachers, sports coaches and parents should dissuade children from having these drinks.

“I think those under 18 should not have access to these drinks. They should be able to buy it only under parental discretion," he said.

Prime in numbers

Each 355ml can of Prime Energy contains 200mg of caffeine, the company's website said.

For comparison, a 250ml can of rival energy drink Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine.

Prime advises people who are sensitive to caffeine, as well as pregnant women, not to consume the Energy version of its drink.

It said Prime Hydration, a sports drink, is suitable for children and helps in replacing electrolytes.

Energy drink warnings

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued warnings against energy drinks stating it causes dehydration, heart complications such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure, anxiety and insomnia.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.

Parents support ban

Radwa Allaban, a British Egyptian mother of three boys, told The National that she “fully support” the ban of these products in schools.

“I do not allow my children to any energy drinks though all her boys are athletes. I have noticed that it makes them jittery and irritable and very short fused,” said Ms Allaban.

“But I once gave in and allowed one of them simply because of his peer pressure. Everyone was consuming it and he also wanted. But I know that it is not good for athletes.

"They should ideally have nutritious and energy dense snacks during competitions and not energy drinks.”

Anjali Menon, an Indian mother from Dubai, told The National energy drinks are an “absolute no" for her two daughters, Neha Menon 16, and Shreya Menon, 11.

“My daughters are into sports and have a lot of peer pressure to have energy drinks," she said.

"I prefer the good old milkshake or a banana for that energy spike. So, I do not allow them to have those beverages."

However, she admits it is a challenge to keep them away from unhealthy drinks and food habits.

“With all the eating out these days, I feel children have developed taste buds that need to be excited," she said.

"They prefer saltier and sweeter foods, which in turn increases their risk of developing diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.”

She said schools should promote wholesome foods.

“Encourage, through recognition programmes, children who eat clean and wholesome food and drink fresh juice and smoothies,” said Ms Menon.

Updated: May 28, 2023, 2:55 PM