Thursday, 29 October 2015

Women using energy drinks to lose weight worries experts

"I honestly hate most energy drinks, they're all sugar and caffeine and can become addictive, from what I hear, but sometimes my energy is so low I have to have SOMETHING - but I don't want to eat, because that usually ends in a binge/purge."

This is the sad logic of one girl seeking advice about energy drinks to suppress her appetite on an anorexia forum. 

On a separate eating disorder forum, girls discuss ways to give their exhausted bodies a jolt of energy.

"Drink a lot of fluids and also even though they aren't good for you, i find that zero energy drinks are awesome for giving you a boost of fake energy," advises one user, while another reminds that filling up on fluids of any kind will help keep her full.
Workshopping ways to avoid eating or consuming calories is common among women trying to lose weight

The latest method -  using energy drinks to replace meals -has caught the attention of experts. And they are worried.

Associate Professor Ross King, of Deakin University first came across the trend during his work treating eating disorder patients as a psychologist.

This lead him to conduct a small study of 97 women with eating disorders which found  about  a third were using energy drinks instead of eating. 

"We know people with eating disorders do abuse caffeine, so this provides a new avenue for them to use energy drinks as a way of replacing meals and creating a sense of fullness,"  King told the ABC.

"Because they're physically compromised, I think that's raised a real concern about issues around energy drink abuse. It adds another risk factor to their physical health."

Previous studies have found those with eating disorders tend towards excessive consumption of caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and fluids.

One 2011 study from the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that individuals with eating disorders turn to energy drinks "as a means to increase energy levels and suppress appetite". This is despite the fact that "the medical repercussions of the misuse of these substances can be significant".

Caffeine overuse can lead to anxiety, tremors and withdrawal headaches. Artificial sweeteners, often used in zero-sugar drinks favoured for their low calories, can cause abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea, while excessive fluid consumption can result in electrolyte imbalances and seizures.

And this is in your average person.

For an individual with an eating disorder, who is restricting nutrients and possibly also abusing laxatives or vomiting in addition to taking energy drinks, the potential for complications are greater.


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