Finland: energy drinks will be a gateway towards irresponsible alcohol use?

Young people in Finland are increasingly falling victim to the negative health effects of energy drinks. Rising numbers of children and teenagers have been hospitalized after imbibing in too many of the highly-caffeinated beverages.

It is not known that anyone in Finland has died from overconsumption of energy drinks, but there have been deaths reported in the US, Canada and Sweden. For example, in Sweden two young people died from heart problems after drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks, and another died after drinking too many energy drinks after playing in a sports event.

Niina Soisalo, a youth counsellor that works for the city of Kouvola is worried that the energy drinks will be a gateway towards irresponsible alcohol use.

“Children learn a drinking culture already in primary school: for example, that they should always have a drink in their hand when they spend time with other kids. It would be all too easy to swipe the energy drink for a can of beer,” she says.

Finland’s Ombudsman for Children Tuomas Kurttila condemns the marketing of energy drinks to children and adolescents. Advertising often focuses on the energy boost the drink gives, along with improved performance, strength, and sustainability. However, the only thing that sets energy drinks apart from other soft drinks is their higher caffeine levels.

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