In a new report, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that energy and sports drinks are harmful for children and teens. The report calls for a total elimination of energy drinks and a near-elimination of high sugar sports drinks.
Many of these drinks, like Red Bull and Monster, are becoming increasingly popular in kids’ diets but, as the report notes, they can cause high blood pressure, high heart rates and insomnia.
In addition to caffeine, energy drinks include high amounts of sugar and herbal stimulants such as guarana and taurine. Some have up to 500 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. Scary stuff!
Here’s what the report states:
Rigorous review and analysis of the literature reveal that caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents. Furthermore, frequent or excessive intake of caloric sports drinks can substantially increase the risk for overweight or obesity in children and adolescents.
Water Is Best For Most Kids Exercising
The authors of the current report and a study published in the journal Pediatrics last February pointed to statistics that showed about half of the nation’s 5,448 reported caffeine overdoses in 2007 were in people under age 19, although it’s not known how many of the cases were the result of energy drink consumption.
The manufacturer of Red Bull refuted the AAP’s study saying a can has about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and includes ingredients that European health officials have declared to be safe. However, users of energy drinks may chug them more quickly than they would hot coffee because they’re served cold.
“For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” Dr. Holly Benjamin, from the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and co-author of the report, said.
Teacher And Parents – Take Action!
As a teacher, I do see students gulping down those energy drinks, but they won’t bring either energy drinks or any other canned soda into my classroom, since they know those cans will be emptied and tossed into the recycling immediately.
The problem is that parents often see sports drinks as a healthy alternative to soda and fruit juice, so they let children drink them all day. But although they have fewer calories than soda and fruit juice per 8 oz serving, they typically come in much larger 32 oz bottles, so your child ends up with more sugar and calories if he drinks the whole bottle, as many kids do.
Let’s try and stop our kids getting addicted to some potentially harmful ingredients.
Photo Credit: Kristian D. via Creative Commons