Consumers facing diabetes risk

DUBAI - The misguided consumption of energy drinks, which contain high levels of glucose, can cause diabetes, a UAE Ministry of Health official said.

By Hani M. Bathish

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Published: Tue 5 Aug 2003, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:10 PM

In a country with over 20 per cent of the population diabetic, the remaining 80 per cent are at high risk of developing the disease at some point due to a sedentary lifestyle and dietary factors. Add to that the misguided consumption of energy drinks.

Dr Juma Bilal Fairouz, Director of the Disease Control and Surveilance Department at the MoH and a member of the Emirates Consumer Protection Society (ECPS), told Khaleej Times that energy drinks, widely sold in stores, should be clearly marked and displayed on separate racks and should have a clear warning that the product is not suitable for children, pregnant women, diabetics or heart patients.

"We can learn a lot from observing nature. In the cold countries, you eat foods laden with fat because you need to store the extra energy since you spend a lot of energy keeping warm. In the hot countries, you eat dates which are a good source of immediate energy. Everything gets used up by the body, nothing is stored, because in a hot country you do not need to store extra energy," he said, adding that people leading a sedentary lifestyle do not need energy drinks.

Dr Juma said anyone who has symptoms of fatigue should consult a doctor and not take a product off the shelf simply because it is available. "A physician can prescribe vitamins and supplements that are designed specifically to remedy a patient's condition, unlike an energy drink which would not," Dr Juma said.

He added: "We have to ask ourselves who really needs these energy drinks. Body-builders and athletes need energy drinks. Pregnant women and children do not need them, nor do diabetics, heart patients and people with hormonal disorders."

Responding to a report on energy drinks which appeared in the Khaleej Times on July 31, in which a UAE municipal official said it was safe for an adult to consume 4,200mg of caffeine a day, which is equal to 52 energy drink cans, Dr Juma said that was an absurd claim. He said, however, that every day medical science discovers something new about caffeine, and most recently it was reported in the Press that caffeine helps foetal growth.

Dr Juma will be attending the 22nd Sports Medicine Congress in the city of Brugge, Belgium, from October 24 to 25 this year.

Standing behind his comments reported in an article on energy drinks published in the Khaleej Times on July 26, Dr Juma said his observations in the Press had been previously discussed and recorded at several meetings of the General Secretariat of UAE Municipalities which he attended and took part in.

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