The sports drink market is expected to see growth in the coming years due to increasing demands worldwide, but the debate on the benefits and health risks associated with its consumption also continues among scientists and the industry. 

Market Watch reported that the North-American market for sports drinks currently sees high consumption of the product, which is expected to boost growth records by 2027. Because of the trend, the region is expected to gain larger revenue in the global market and compete with other markets across Europe, including France, Italy and Germany, as well as the United Kingdom. 

There is also an increasing consumption of the energy drinks in developing countries, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific. Amid the rapid growth of sports drink markets globally, scientists have also been raising concerns about the product’s potential impact on human health. 

A new study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports suggests that sports drinks can effectively enhance endurance performance, Outside Magazine reported. The findings come from the analysis of the performance of nine cyclists through a series of four identical exercise protocols. The researchers at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil found that such drinks could boost physical performance with or without a meal before consumption. 

Despite the positive effects of sports drinks, other scientists warned that its high consumption could have negative effects on the human body. The World Health Organization (WHO) previously issued a warning over potentially deadly energy drink health risks. The sports drinks risks include the following list. 

1. Caffeine overdose

WHO researchers said after a review of earlier studies that high consumption of energy drinks could lead to palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, convulsions and, in some cases, death.

2. Type 2 diabetes

Caffeine, when consumed at high amount, could reduce insulin sensitivity. Type 2 diabetes affects how the body metabolizes sugar and when left untreated could lead to long-term complications that could be disabling or life-threatening, such as heart and blood vessel diseases, nerve damage, kidney damage, slow wound healing and Alzheimer's disease.

3. Late miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women

A study previously linked caffeine consumption by pregnant women to miscarriage. Researchers found that caffeine crosses the placental barrier and could reach the developing fetus, ABC News reported.

Those women who consumed drinks even with less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day were found with 40 percent increased risk of miscarriage.

4. Use and dependence on other harmful substances

A study in 2016 shows that moderate to heavy sports drink consumers have high risk for lifetime substance use, particularly in adolescents. Those who were light consumers also showed indications of substance use during the study. 

The study used data from earlier reports that showed consistent interest of adolescents in drugs, as well as alcohol and tobacco, during their high consumption of sports drinks. 

5. Obesity

Despite the promotion of sports drinks for active lifestyle, studies also showed that the products were also contributing to the increasing number of obese or overweight consumers. 

One study released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine linked body weight gain with the various substances in such drinks.

Researchers highlighted the presence of sugar in the products that potentially significantly contributed to obesity. But they noted that weight gain was not related to caffeine.  

“The health risks associated with energy drink consumption are primarily related to their caffeine content,” WHO researchers said. “The risks of heavy consumption of energy drinks among young people have largely gone unaddressed and are poised to become a significant public health problem in the future,” they added.

However, more studies are required to confirm earlier findings on the benefits and risks of the long-term consumption of sports drinks.