A 23-year-old Auckland mother who lost 45kg in eight months by drinking nothing but energy drink Red Bull says she has ongoing health problems because of the diet.
Brooke Robertson told the Herald on Sunday she shrank from 105kg to 60kg drinking nothing but 10 to 14 cans a day, often accompanying them with nothing more than a handful of dry Honey Puffs.
Ms Robertson said she put on weight while carrying son Keir, now four, but did not make a conscious decision to go on a Red Bull diet.
"I just started drinking it. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating – I was exhausted," she said.
"I just continued to drink it because it's an appetite suppressant and I noticed I was losing weight so stuck with it."
Ms Robertson said she managed to keep her addiction secret from family and friends, and did not recover from it until after a two-week stay in hospital following a minor heart attack.
"I managed to wean myself off it by being in hospital for that long but I had severe withdrawals – sweating, nausea, shaking. It was an addiction. The doctors stated that."
Ms Robertson now maintains her figure through exercise and a Weight Watchers diet, but said she still suffers the effects of the extreme diet.
She said she has a heart murmur, gets severe pain and cramping in her stomach and bowel, and suffers anxiety attacks.
A Red Bull spokesman said there was "scientific evidence that caffeine is not addictive".
The drink was available in 148 countries "because health authorities across the world have concluded that Red Bull is safe to consume", he said.
The drink is banned in Norway, Denmark and Uruguay because of health fears.
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