A leading construction trainer has called for energy drinks to be banned from Australian building sites because tradies consume so many of the unhealthy beverages that their work and health is suffering.
Paul Breen, who trains up to 500 young tradespeople in western Sydney each year, told Daily Mail Australia the sugary, caffeinated drinks are actually making tradies work slower.
Young tradies are arriving on work sites with the habit of consuming several energy drinks a day to make up for lack of sleep and poor physical condition.
Electrical apprentice Matt Glass told Daily Mail Australia the drinks are so cheap that his workmates have ‘two for breakfast and two for lunch’ each day.
But the drinks end up make the young tradies worse at their jobs because it affects their concentration and mental health.
Leading construction trainer Paul Breen has called for energy drinks to be banned from Australian building sites because tradies consume so many of the unhealthy beverages that their work and health is suffering. Electrical apprentice Matt Glass (above) gave up energy drinks after doing Mr Breen’s training and completing his own research
Some reports say the trainees are getting the taste for energy drinks at high school, with adults reporting seeing up to 30 students queuing up to buy them at servos near schools in the morning.
Mr Breen, who runs Productivity Bootcamp to prepare tradies for the construction industry, said the bins at his Penrith site are filled every week with empty energy drink cans.
‘We toss the bins out in front of them and say “lads look at this, look what you’re doing to yourselves”.’
He said the young tradies ‘get a burst of energy and confidence’ from the drinks at first, and they copy their mates who buy into the brands partly due to their imagery of extreme sports.
‘After a while, their young bodies start to break down,’ Mr Breen said.
Paul Breen said once young tradies understand the benefits of healthier food – and that drinking water and eating a proper breakfast will give them energy all day long – they happily change their diets. Pictured: Tradespeople taking part in his course
‘They have problems sleeping, and it affects their concentration and their mental health, big time. It’s like putting bad petrol in a good engine.
‘I do think they should be banned.
‘They should get rid of the vending machines that sell them from big sites too, I guarantee employees wouldn’t kick up if those drinks are not there, they’d just drink water if that’s all that’s all there is.’
Mr Breen’s company provides skills training and nutrition for teenagers who start out as ‘couch potatoes with no strength in their back and legs, no core strength’.
Often their poor physical condition results from a poor diet, including too much fast food, soft drinks and energy drinks.
Multiple studies have linked sugary energy drinks to breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer, and to obesity and mental health issues including increased anxiety, depression and problems concentrating.
He said once the teenagers understand the real benefits of healthier food – and that drinking water and eating a proper breakfast will give them energy all day long – they happily change their diets.
Dentist Dr Kaejenn Tchia (pictured) said in extreme cases teenagers are losing their teeth partly due to energy drinks
Mr Glass, a third-year electrical apprentice, gave up energy drinks after doing Mr Breen’s training and completing his own research.
‘I looked into it what doctors said about it, and people as young as 23 were having heart attacks from drinking too many, in Australia and in the US,’ he said.
Last year an unnamed 21-year-old English university student spent 58 days in the hospital and was being considered for an organ transplant after consuming four 500ml energy drinks every day for two years.
Mr Glass said he tries to deter his workmates, but most won’t listen.
While one energy drink is equivalent to a cup of coffee, the low price of packs means young people are consuming up to four of the drinks in a few hours, and their energy levels end up ‘crashing’.
Nutritionists say tradies are not the only ones affected.
Workers in many jobs with early starts, such as distribution, hospitality and even offices, are grabbing energy drinks for a morning kick-start, said Leanne Elliston, a dietician and spokesperson for Nutrition Australia.
After drinking up to six cans a day for seven months, Mr Pyner began to have tooth pain. He hid his teeth from his mother, until the front four teeth snapped when he bit into an apple
The destructive effect of an energy drink on tooth enamel, which has left the tooth literally crumbling — the small, pink pieces on the tooth root are actually lumps of enamel
‘Absolutely, it’s a problem. When you have them on a regular basis your body becomes used to it, so it becomes more than a habit. It’s addiction.’
Ms Elliston said people should exercise moderation with energy drinks, but often they won’t because one can, or bottle can’t supply the energy needed for a whole work day.
‘It works, kind of, in that it gives them quick energy to get the work done.
‘The crucial factors that are missing is getting long-lasting energy and trying to minimise huge peaks and troughs that occur with energy.
‘As quick as they get it the hit, then its drops away again [and] so reach out for another.’
Dr Kaejenn Tchia, a Darwin dentist and spokesman for the Australian Dental Association, said it is well known that years of drinking energy and soft drinks puts someone at risk of losing all their teeth.
But the constant consumption of energy drinks in younger age groups means it’s happening much earlier than expected.
‘Across Australia tooth decay and tooth erosion is definitely becoming more prevalent in younger populations.
‘We tend to see in very severe cases that, coupled with poor oral health literacy, energy drinks tipped people over and led to loss of teeth.
‘In extreme cases that’s happening in teens and early 20s.’
A statement from the Australian Dental Association said energy drinks and sports drinks can affect the teeth by causing tooth decay, tooth erosion and sensitivity when the enamel is literally eaten away.
The culprits are sugar and the high levels of acidity in energy drinks.