Energy Drinks are Dangerous for Minors and Sports Drinks are Mostly Unnecessary - New Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics

In a formal policy statement issued Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics made it very clear that energy drinks are unsafe and should be avoided entirely by minors and that sports drinks have limited potential use and should be used only in specific circumstances or not at all.

We've all seen them on the shelves - Monster, Red Bull, Amp, Rockstar and a host of other copycats. They are everywhere in Chico it seems, especially in gas stations and convenience stores. These "energy" drinks contain a lot of caffeine. Some have as much as 500mg caffeine which is the equivalent caffeine of 14 caffeinated sodas or several cups of coffee. In addition, many add other stimulants such as guarana or taurine to the drinks.

These drinks are branded in such a way as to make them appealing to children and teenagers. The problem is, they can lead to high blood pressure, high heart rate or insomnia. The non-caffeine additives can make the effects of caffeine even stronger. These drugs will have an even greater effect on children since they are smaller then adults.
A study that came out last February in the journal Pediatrics indicated that one half of the greater than 5000 caffeine overdoses in 2007 were in people under the age of 19 although it doesn't specify how many were from energy drinks.

This simply isn't something that children and teens should be putting in their body! If they are tired, they need more rest, not a stimulant to artificially wake them up. To do that is treating the symptom not the cause of the problem.

Likewise, sports drinks such as gatorade have been around for decades. Certainly for youths doing vigorous sports, they help replenish the salts lost through sweat and give a boost of sugar. the problem is, they are often being drank by children who are sedentary or dong only light exercise. Because they are chock full of glucose - an easily absorbed sugar, they give a big sugar boost to the body. That may increase the risk of obesity or even increase the risk of developing type II diabetes in the obese child. Most children are best off drinking good old water.

Many sports drinks have quite a bit more sugar than a fruit juice. Current guidelines are no more than 4-5 ounces of juice per day in a young child, no more than 6-8 ounces in an older child or teen. You do not need fruit juice in your diet at all. It is much healthier to eat actual fruits as part of a meal. If you do give juice, 100% fruit juice is the way to go.

Likewise milk is way overused in children as well. You do not need milk in your diet at all. It is a reasonable source of calcium, but is also high in sugars. 6-8 ounces a day is plenty for a younger child and 8-12 ounces per day in an older child or teen. I have toddlers as patients who are being given 40 oz a day of milk, this can lead to obesity, iron deficiency and other health problems. I have teenage patients who drink a half gallon jug a day. There is no reason for this, especially as expensive as milk has been lately.

In any case for toddlers, children and teenagers up to age 18, the best thing is absolutely no energy drinks, sports drinks limited to periods of heavy exercise, little or no juice and limited amounts of milk if any. There is also no need for other sources of empty calories such as sodas, Hi-C or other sugary drinks. Water, water, water  - it is the healthiest for you.

blog comments powered by Disqus