Why Children Should Avoid Energy Drinks

Why Children Should Avoid Energy Drinks

The American Academy of Pediatrics clearly mentions that children should not drink high-octane energy drinks and should avoid having sports drinks. Energy drinks are unhealthy because of the high content of caffeine and other stimulants present in the drink, according to a report published in, Pediatrics. Study co-author Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, a pediatrician at Greenwich Adolescent Medicine in Greenwich, remarked that everybody had lots of doubts about the energy and sports drinks and the topic was like a Pandora’s Box. 

She explained that sports drinks and energy drinks are two different types of drinks. Sports drinks are used to replace the water and electrolytes lost during intense activity and contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, flavoring, and calories. However, energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, like guarana and taurine.

This report presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics lists all the active ingredients present in some of the major brands of sports and energy drinks like Accelerade, All Sport Body Quencher, Gatorade, Powerade, Full Throttle, Monster Energy, Power Trip, Red Bull, and Rockstar. The report warns that children and adolescents should not have energy drinks. It clearly states that some of the energy drinks have more than 100 milligrams of caffeine in a can. Too much of caffeine can lead to increase in heart rate, blood pressure, speech, anxiety levels and insomnia.

Schneider says that caffeine is addictive in children also and may cause withdrawal symptoms in them. “Sports drinks have too much calories that may cause weight gain and dental erosion”, she adds. It should be used only by athletes and other personnel who are involved in prolonged vigorous sports or other activities. “These drinks should be avoided at lunch time also”, she specifies. “Children should drink adequate water”, says Cynthia Pegler, MD, an adolescent medical specialist in New York City.

“For kids who take part in sports activities, drinking water should be encouraged instead of other sports drink”, Pegler reminds. Too much of caffeine present in the energy drinks may cause sleep problems and this should be totally avoided if the child is under treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to her parents should set the limits for caffeine intake in children and how late stay up. This is bit hard as there is no age limit for buying these products and anybody can get it from a store.

“Just like in the case of alcohol and healthy eating, parents should be the role models for the intake of caffeine," says Pegler. According to Kelly Sinclair, RD, clinical dietician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C, it was the right time to address such a topic. He adds that a sugary beverage is needed only for those who exercise for more than 60 minutes at a time with a lot of sweating.

One should not confuse between exercise duration and intensity, she says. Soccer practice that runs for two hours may not be vigorous exercise all along. It also includes drills, stretching and some standing around. She feels that it is better to opt for beverages that are 10 calories or less. Otherwise one might replace all the calories lost by the exercise by the drink. Water would be more appropriate to replace the lost fluid.

“If teenagers are sluggish in the morning, skips breakfast and are not getting enough sleep, energy drink can be given but the root of the problem has to be evaluated," she adds.