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P.E.I. school wants caffeine-packed energy drinks banned

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 | 9:52 AM ET

**CBC News**
A high school in Prince Edward Island is asking the provincial government to ban the sale of high-caffeine drinks because students are drinking them at unhealthy levels.

Similar bans have been raised in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, where schools would like to keep the drinks off of school property. In Michigan, a Republican lawmaker said last month he would sponsor a bill outlawing the sale of energy drinks to minors.

In Souris, P.E.I., a CBC television reporter spoke with several students who said they downed the caffeinated drinks with the regularity many adults save for coffee.

"It gets you going in the morning," said one young man. "I drink it pretty much just for the energy rush," added Grade 9 student Malcolm Coady.
Some teens acknowledged the drinks had become a habit.

"They pump you up and they are really addictive," said Amy Kinsella.
For those reasons, Seana Evans-Renaud, the principal of Souris Regional High School, has mounted a campaign to stop the energy drinks from flowing so freely.

"We have requested that the government ban the sale of energy drinks to anybody under the age of 18," said Evans-Renaud.
The market for so-called high-energy drinks has exploded from being worth $200 million five years ago to $1 billion last year. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the energy drink market is the hottest segment in the beverage sector since bottled water.

The drinks come branded with names like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and Full Throttle and are accompanied by hip YouTube commercials targeting the young male market. They advertise the drinks as a way to improve performance.

According to Agriculture Canada, those marketing efforts have been so successful that some experts suggest these products will replace coffee for an entire generation of consumers.

Teens are buying in despite the high prices, which are usually about double the price of a coffee or a soft drink. Some students told CBC TV that they drank two to three cans a day.

The problem, health officials say, is the drinks are loaded with caffeine. A person would have to eat five and half chocolate bars or drink four cans of cola in one sitting to ingest the amount of caffeine found in just one of these drinks.

According to energyfiend.com, a 245-ml can of Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine. A 473-ml can of Full Throttle contains 144 mg, and the ultimate, a 444-ml can of Rockstar Roasted has 222 mg of caffeine. That compares to 100 mg of caffeine found in a small Tim Horton's coffee.
Teens who drink lots of this stuff may find the energy boost they get comes with side affects, including possibly heart palpitations, said Dr. Tracey Bridger, a pediatric endocrinologist with the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in Newfoundland.

"They might feel a bit of the caffeine rush at the beginning, but very quickly they would have all symptoms such as the headaches, the upset stomach, the fatigue, the jitteriness," said Dr. Bridger.

In August, a small study out of Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital showed that energy drinks boosted heart rates and blood pressure levels. The researchers warned that people with high blood pressure should avoid such drinks.