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Pediatrics Group: Energy Drinks No Good for Kids

American Academy of Pediatrics Also Says Kids Should Avoid Sports Drinks
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 31, 2011 -- Children should never drink high-octane energy drinks and rarely need to drink sports drinks, according to a new position paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Energy drinks are particularly unhealthy for children due to the risks associated with caffeine and/or other stimulants included in the drink, the report says.

The report is published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

"All of us get a lot of questions about sports and energy drinks and we knew this topic was a Pandora's box," says study co-author Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, a pediatrician at Greenwich Adolescent Medicine in Greenwich, Conn.

Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks

"Sports drinks and energy drinks are different types of drinks," she says. Sports drinks contain carbs, minerals, electrolytes, flavoring, and calories. They replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during intense exercise only. By contrast, energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and other stimulants including guarana and taurine.

The  report lists the active ingredients found in many available sports drinks, including Accelerade, All Sport Body Quencher, Gatorade, and Powerade and in energy drinks including Full Throttle, Monster Energy, Power Trip, Red Bull, and Rockstar,

Energy drinks are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should not be consumed, the report states. Some cans or bottles of energy drinks have more than 100 milligrams of caffeine, the report says.

"They have stimulants and should not be confused with sport drinks at all," Schneider says. Side effects from too much caffeine can include increase in heart rate, blood pressure, speech, anxiety levels and lead to insomnia.

"Caffeine is addictive and just like adults, kids can have withdrawal," she says.

"Most sports drinks have calories and sugar which can lead to weight gain and dental erosion," Schneider says. "They have a limited use for specific kids and teen athletes involved in prolonged vigorous sports or other activities."

"These drinks need don't need to be at lunchtime," she says

Let them drink water, says Cynthia Pegler, MD, an adolescent medical specialist in New York City.

"For most kids who do sports, water was the drink to encourage instead of all these other sugary drinks," she says. Watering down a sports drink is not a bad idea per se, but "the more kids learn to like the taste of water, the better it is for them," she says.

"The real energy drinks are bad news," she says. "Too much caffeine is not good for anybody and can lead to sleep problems, and if a child is also on a stimulant medicine to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you are now getting an extra whammy. This is not a good combination."

Parents need to set limits about the amount of caffeine their kids are getting and how late they stay up, she says. "The hard part is that there is no age limit, and anyone can go buy energy drinks in any deli or store."

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