In a move to prioritize the health and wellbeing of its students, GEMS World Academy, a prominent school in Dubai, has banned energy drinks on its premises. This decision comes as concerns surrounding the potential negative impacts of energy drinks on young individuals continue to grow among educationists and medical professionals in the UAE.
While energy drinks are known to provide a temporary boost in alertness and energy levels, studies have indicated numerous risks and drawbacks associated with their consumption. A 2020 study conducted at Harvard University revealed that although some controlled trials have shown short-term improvements in alertness and fatigue reversal, the majority of studies associate these drinks with adverse health effects. These effects include increased stress, aggressive behaviors, elevated blood pressure, heightened risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, poor sleep quality, and stomach irritation.
The GEMS World Academy recently issued a circular to parents, raising awareness about the potential risks posed by Prime Energy drinks and subsequently implementing a ban on the beverage. The school highlighted various health problems, including anxiety and the potential for addiction, as consequences of consuming energy drinks.
Dean Winders, Assistant Principal Primary – Personal Development, Welfare and Behaviour at GEMS World Academy, emphasized the importance of promoting a healthy diet to equip students with the tools necessary for a balanced lifestyle. He stated, “We believe that healthy habits formed at an early age will pave the way for a lifetime of wellness. That is why we strongly believe that energy drinks that are high in caffeine and sugar should be prohibited in schools.”
Educators assert that children are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, which may provide them with an initial “extra push” but can lead to long-term negative effects. By promoting a healthy diet, educational institutions aim to positively impact students’ academic performance, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.
Several schools in the UAE have implemented healthy eating policies, advocating for the avoidance of energy drinks. Sean Lewis, Head of Pastoral Care, Student Development, Wellbeing, and Safeguarding at Star International School, Al Twar, highlighted the dangers of high sugar content and addiction potential. Regular sessions and assemblies are held to remind the entire school community, including students and parents, about the significance of maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.