Toronto’s acting Health Officer is calling for a ban on the sale of energy drinks to teens, claiming the drinks have adverse effects similar to alcohol.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe together with a group of concerned parents proposed the age restriction – which would prevent anyone under the age of 19 from purchasing the drinks – to Toronto city council on Monday.
Yaffe argues that health issues that come with the consumption of energy drinks, such as abnormal heart rhythms, could have dire effects on some minors.
The Canadian Beverage Association disagrees with that proposal, however, claiming that the effects of energy drinks have been meticulously studied.
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CBA President Jim Goetz says he doesn’t believe the proposal will lead to any changes.
“If we follow the signs I don’t think that the government would take that type of action here in Canada. In 2013 Health Canada did a very extensive risk assessment of energy drinks and the population and came to the conclusion that they are safe for consumption amongst adults and youth.”
Goetz accepts that there are health risks, but says they aren’t unique to energy drinks.
“The active ingredient in an energy drink is caffeine, and most energy drinks have almost half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. What Health Canada is regularly concerned about is overconsumption of caffeine, and the report made it very clear that it doesn’t matter the source.”
Among the parents who spoke to Toronto city council was Jim Shepherd, whose 15-year-old son Brian died of an arrhythmic heart beat in 2008.
Shepherd believes his son’s health issues were caused by consuming energy drinks just before a paintball tournament on the day of his death.
Brian’s death is one of three believed to be associated with energy drinks in Canada since 2006.
With files from Tristan Martin-Woodhouse