Objective To examine patterns of energy drink consumption by children and young people, attitudes towards these drinks, and any associations with health or other outcomes.
Design Rapid evidence assessment and narrative synthesis.
Data sources 9 electronic bibliographic databases, reference lists of relevant studies and searches of the internet.
Results A total of 410 studies were located, with 46 meeting the inclusion criteria. The majority employed a cross-sectional design, involved participants aged 11–18 years, and were conducted in North America or Europe. Consumption of energy drinks by children and young people was found to be patterned by gender, with boys consuming more than girls, and also by activity levels, with the highest consumption observed in the most and least sedentary individuals. Several studies identified a strong, positive association between the use of energy drinks and higher odds of health-damaging behaviours, as well as physical health symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, hyperactivity and insomnia. There was some evidence of a dose–response effect. 2 experimental studies involving small numbers of junior athletes demonstrated a positive impact on limited aspects of sports performance. 3 themes emerged from the qualitative studies: reasons for use; influences on use; and perceived efficacy and impact. Taste and energy-seeking were identified as key drivers, and branding and marketing were highlighted as major influences on young people's consumption choices. Awareness of possible negative effects was low.
Conclusions There is growing evidence that consumption of energy drinks is associated with a range of adverse outcomes and risk behaviours in terms of children's health and well-being. However, taste, brand loyalty and perceived positive effects combine to ensure their popularity with young consumers. More research is needed to explore the short-term and long-term impacts in all spheres, including health, behaviour and education.
Trial registration number CRD42014010192.
- child health
- systematic review
- energy drinks
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Contributors SV, AAL, MC and DMR designed the study and obtained funding. SV wrote the review protocol and conducted the searches. SV, DMR, MC and AAL screened titles and full papers, assessed study quality, extracted data and undertook the narrative synthesis. SJC provided administrative and technical support. All authors contributed to the drafting of the paper and approved the final submitted version. The authors of this manuscript take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Funding The review was funded as part of a larger study by The Children's Foundation (registered charity no. 1000013). AAL and MC are members of Fuse (UKCRC Centre for Translational Research in Public Health), and SV is an associate member. Funding for Fuse comes from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, and the National Institute for Health Research, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, and is gratefully acknowledged (MRC grant number MR/K02325X/1).
Disclaimer This paper reports independent research commissioned and funded by The Children's Foundation Child Health Research Programme 2013–2014. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, or preparation of any publications or dissemination materials. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of The Children's Foundation or any other funder.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.