Children are fueling marathon gaming sessions with ‘dangerous’ stimulants that have DOUBLE the caffeine of Red Bull and are promoted by YouTube stars like KSI and FaZe Jarvis
- Gaming supplements sold to children on Amazon contain up to 200mg caffeine
- Equivalent of six cans of Coke, two-and-half cans of Red Bull or three espressos
- Required no proof of age to purchase despite energy drinks ban in UK for U-16s
- Experts slammed the companies for encouraging kids to stay up all night gaming
- Using YouTube stars like KSI and eSports players to promote to young audiences
Child gamers are being flogged powerful stimulants with more than two times the amount of caffeine as a can of Red Bull.
The supplements promise ‘laser focus’ during marathon all-night gaming sessions and are hugely popular with young teenagers.
They come in powdered form to be mixed with water or in pill capsules and are sold for between £15 and £30 on Amazon.
MailOnline found dozens with up to 200mg of caffeine in one serving, far more than a child’s entire daily allowance, which required no age verification to purchase.
This is the equivalent of two-and-a-half 250ml cans of Red Bull, nearly three espressos from Starbucks or six cans of Coca Cola.
Companies that usually target bodybuilders are now using YouTube stars like KSI and professional eSports players to promote them to their young audiences online.
The X-Gamer Zomberry flavour is packed with a whopping 200mg of caffeine in just one scoop – the same as two Red Bulls. It’s freely available on Amazon and requires no proof of age to purchase
G Fuel products products (left) – one of the most popular on the market – contain 140mg of caffeine per serving, more than a child’s entire daily allowance. RWE Razorwire Energy is packed with 150mg in one scoop – more than two espressos from Starbucks
British YouTube star KSI, whose real name is Olajide William Olatunji, has advertised G Fuel products to his young audience on Instagram. He boasts 7.4million followers on his account
Too much caffeine can cause headaches, irritability, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain and poor sleep.
Leading experts have slammed manufacturers for sidestepping the UK’s energy drink laws and encouraging youngsters to stay up all night playing video games.
The government banned under-16s from purchasing them in a crackdown on the hyper-caffeinated products in June.
X-Gamer Zomberry – 200mg caffeine (one scoop)
Monster Energy can 500ml – 160mg caffeine
Razorwire Player 1 Gaming Fuel Energy Drink Raspberry – 150mg caffeine (one scoop)
G Fuel Elite Energy and Endurance Formula – 150mg caffeine (one scoop)
Red Bull Energy Drink 250ml – 80mg caffeine
Starbucks Espresso – 75mg caffeine
Bottle of Lucozade 380ml – 46mg caffeine
Coca Cola 330ml can – 32mg caffeine
Dr Pepper 330ml can – 41mg caffeine
Cup of tea – roughly 26mg caffeine
Energy drinks were said to trigger adverse behaviour in pupils at school and home, leaving teachers and parents to deal with the fallout.
Ian Hamilton, an addictions lecturer at the University of York, said: ‘There is clearly a mismatch between the regulations and the reality.
‘The regulations restrict access of these products to those under the age of sixteen, but these restrictions are easily side-stepped as children are able to access these products through known online retailers.
‘The government needs to consider extending the current legislation beyond physical retailers to online ones.’
Mr Hamilton said youngsters consuming high amounts of these products regularly would crash hard and risk the chance of heart problems.
He added: ‘There will be a price to pay in the form of tiredness and irritability. This come down would have an impact on these young people’s ability to function well at school, particularly if these drinks are used on a regular basis.
‘Drinking [high amounts] significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems, something that many young people will be unaware of until it’s too late.
‘The psychological risk of developing gaming dependence is also elevated by using these drinks as they enable greater engagement and length of time spent playing.
‘This could lead to a combined dependence on gaming and on these drinks, as children develop a tolerance to caffeine, needing greater quantities to get the same desired effect of improved concentration and mental stamina.’
Companies that usually target gym-goers and bodybuilders are now using eSports players to promote them to their young audiences on Instagram.
British YouTube star KSI, whose real name is Olajide William Olatunji, has advertised G Fuel products – which contain 140mg of caffeine per serving – to his 7.4million followers on Instagram.
Seventeen-year-old Surrey-born Fortnite gamer FaZe Jarvis, 18, has also promoted the formulas to his 1.3million followers.
The gamer, real name Jarvis Kaye, made headlines in October when he was permanently banned from playing the video game for cheating.
Doug Martin, a professional Call of Duty player who is better known as FaZe Censor, has also flogged the G Fuel supplements to his 1.4million followers on Instagram.
The products are packed with caffeine, taurine, vitamins, electrolytes and other stimulants.
Seventeen-year-old Surrey-born Fortnite gamer FaZe Jarvis, 18, has also promoted the formulas to his 1.3million followers
Doug Martin, a professional Call of Duty player who is better known as FaZe Censor, has also flogged the G Fuel supplements to his 1.4million followers on Instagram
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘Manufacturers that dump this much caffeine in their products have little interest in children’s health.
‘Though consuming high levels may be just about acceptable to adults, children are particularly sensitive to it.
‘It is pernicious in its its ability to induce insomnia, a well-documented cause of obesity and the fact that manufacturers promote it as an aid to live through marathon gaming sessions leaves me cold.
‘Selling energy drinks to young children has been banned on health grounds: these outrageous gaming supplements should be added to the list.’
London-based nutritionist Kim Pearson added: ‘The government has banned energy drink sales to anyone under 16, highlighting the fact that high doses of stimulants are not recommended for children.
‘Consumption of caffeine can lead to feelings of anxiety, nausea, jitteriness, nervousness, stomach upsets and problems sleeping in the short term, but tolerance to caffeine can build quickly with regular consumption.
‘Throughout bone-building years, caffeine can affect how the body absorbs calcium, reducing the amount available for bone growth – a particular problem for developing children.’
A February 2018 study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found half of Canadian teenagers who consumed energy drinks reported negative side effects including a rapid heartbeat, nausea, and in rare cases, seizures.
More recently, a November 2018 study from the University of Texas at Houston found that just one energy drink narrows blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to vital organs, and increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
ENERGY DRINKS – ARE THEY SAFE?
There has been a stark rise in Britons’ thirst for caffeinated drinks – at least 600 million litres are drunk every year, 200 million more than ten years ago.
Figures from the British Soft Drinks Association reveal that the volume of energy drinks consumed in the UK increased from 463 million litres in 2010 to 679 million litres in 2017, with the UK market now worth £2billion a year.
Some 55 per cent of those aged between 12 and 24 years old suffer everything from vomiting and chest pains to even seizures from the drinks, despite most consuming less than the recommended one-to-two beverages a day, a Canadian study found last January.
As well as the drinks’ alarmingly high caffeine levels, the researchers believe consuming them with alcohol or during exercise makes them even more dangerous.
Previous research has linked energy drinks, such as Red Bull, to obesity, heart abnormalities and even sudden death due to their high-sugar and caffeine content.
Most energy-drink consumers are unaware of the products’ main ingredients, health implications or appropriate serving sizes, experts have said.
How much caffeine do they contain?
A 250ml serving of a typical energy drink – half the standard bottle or can size – contains 80mg of caffeine per litre – twice as much as a regular cola drink, but the same as a 60ml espresso.
Experts have warned that caffeine-packed energy drinks could be fuelling a record rise in diagnoses of irregular heartbeats, one of Britain’s biggest killers.
Just one energy drink daily could trigger arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm which increases the risk of stroke five-fold.
It is thought that this is because excessive caffeine consumption dramatically increases the amount of calcium released within the heart’s cells, disrupting the electrical rhythm.
Experts also warn the addition of high quantities of sugar in energy drinks could be a reason for their potency.
How much sugar do they contain?
Campaigns, such as Action on Sugar have called for a complete ban on the products for under 16s.
Their study in December 2017 found the average sugar content was more than an adult’s entire maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake in the UK.
Likewise, 78 per cent of products exceeded the maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake for a child aged seven to ten 10 years – 24 g or six teaspoons.
Certain manufacturers reformulated before the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in April 2018 in the UK.
It would mean that one 250ml Red Bull energy drink containing 27g of sugar (five-and-a-half teaspoons), now costs an extra 6p.
Before reformulation in 2017, the Punched Energy and Tropical Guava Flavour products from Rockstar, contained a staggering 78g, or 20 teaspoons, of sugar per 500ml serving – more than three times the daily recommendation of 25g for women and 38g for men.
Now, these drinks contain 24g of sugar per 500ml, the equivalent of six teaspoons per 500ml.
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