"Clear distinction" needed between sports drinks and energy drinks

July 13, 2018
Dr. Adam Carey
Dr. Adam Carey Image courtesy of Sports Nutrition Congress
Trade association, European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) has addressed the UK House of Commons asking for “clear distinctions” to be made between sports drinks and energy drinks.

There is growing concern among European public health officials regarding high sugar and caffeine consumption among youth under the age of 18. Some American cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia have added a “sugar tax” to sodas and energy drinks to fight a growing obesity problem. Canadian officials are currently debating adding a tax to sugary drinks. Levels of sugar and caffeine in various brands of sport drinks and energy drinks put them in a nutritional grey zone.

“Sports nutrition products containing caffeine and carbohydrates, unlike energy drinks, are designed and used by consumers for activities which increase the body’s nutritional and physiological needs. They are designed to be used specifically before, during and/or after exercise and are typically used to replace electrolytes and macronutrients,” said ESSNA chair Adam Carey, in a press release.

Carey stated that energy drinks and sports drinks are marketed and used very differently, and feels that it’s time that people stopped using the terms “sports drink,” and “energy drink” interchangeably.

“It’s important to first and foremostly remember that the majority of sports drinks (by sales volume) do not contain caffeine. Those that do will contain 200mg or less, a dosage level found to be safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA.8)” stated Carey.

“When caffeine is used in sports products, it is targeted at healthy, physically active adults, and carefully dosed and presented for use during endurance exercise – the benefits of which have been validated by EFSA…similarly, sports drinks will usually have a specific level of carbohydrate content, which is lower than many energy drinks or other soft drinks, and benefits of which have also been recognized by EFSA in the context of physical activity.”

ESSNA works with authorities and other trade associations across the food industry to monitor and report irresponsible companies that flout EU law and may put consumers at potential risk from dangerous products.

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