Pediatricians Group Raps Energy and Sports Drinks for
MONDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although sports drinks and
energy drinks are marketed heavily toward children and teens, a
leading association of pediatricians is sounding the alarm about
these beverages for kids.
Young children and teens should avoid energy drinks entirely,
the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a report issued Monday,
and routine consumption of sports drinks should be limited or
"There's no place for energy drinks for kids," said report co-author Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, an adolescent physician in Greenwich, Conn. "There's a place for sports drinks, but that place is very specific."
Energy drinks include such popular brands as Red Bull, AMP and
Rockstar and tend to be heavily caffeinated, potentially having
several times the level of caffeine found in a cup of coffee.
Manufacturers often add sugar and herbal stimulants such as guarana
and taurine to the drinks, which are popular among kids.
The caffeine and herbal stimulants found in energy drinks can be
dangerous to kids, the researchers noted. Some cans or bottles of
energy drinks, in fact, may contain more than 500 mg of caffeine,
which is equivalent to the caffeine found in 14 cans of caffeinated
soda, according to Schneider.
The caffeine in energy drinks can lead to high blood pressure,
high heart rate and insomnia, said Schneider. The other ingredients
can boost the power of the caffeine, she said, adding that the
drinks will have a greater effect on children because they're
smaller than adults.
"Kids don't need to have this," she said. "This is not something they should be drinking."
Schneider declined to identify any energy drinks that may be
better than others for kids who insist on drinking them. If kids
use energy drinks because they're tired, she said, they should get
more rest instead of chugging caffeine. "It's not a solution," she
The manufacturer of Red Bull defended its drink, 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.
The authors of the current report and a study published in the
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 study also reported that many teens consider energy drinks
and sports drinks interchangeable, which they are not.
Sports drinks like Gatorade -- designed to replace water and
electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise -- have been
around for decades, but they now come in a wider selection of
flavors and types. The report raps them for coming with too many
calories and potentially boosting the risk of obesity, weight gain
and dental erosion. Most kids will do just fine drinking water
instead, Schneider said.
However, "kids who are doing a lot of vigorous aerobic activity
can benefit from sports drinks," she said. "For the rest of the
crowd, it certainly doesn't need to be served at lunch. We want
kids to be focusing on water and calcium."
If kids insist on sports drinks, Schneider said there are
low-calorie types to consider.
The report appears in the May 30 issue of the journal
Dr. David Weldy, an assistant professor of family medicine at
the University of Toledo, said he hasn't seen young patients report
problems due to energy drinks, and he acknowledged that direct
evidence saying that they're harmful is lacking.
"There isn't a whole lot of research into these things," Weldy said.
But the drinks do seem to keep kids from sleeping and cause
concentration problems, he said, and they may also dangerously
boost the heart rate.
Weldy said that doctors should talk to kids about both energy
and sports drinks as part of discussions about nutrition. "It
should be part of the conversation a lot more," he said.
For more about
sports drinks, try Washington state's website.
Copyright © 2011
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.