Energy Drinks are Bad for Children and Adolescents
To people who feel run down, or who haven’t been getting enough sleep lately, or for students who need to stay up all night cramming for exams, or the person trying to work two full-time jobs, energy drinks might seem like a godsend. But think about it; I mean really think about it. These drinks are loaded with caffeine, sugar, sweeteners, etc. You know those bad things that nutritionists tell us to avoid or limit the consumption of. Yet these are the very ingredients that come together to give us the so-called energy drink.
According to the February 2011, online issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, sales of energy drinks are expected to top $9 billion dollars in 2011. Half of the energy-drink market consists of children (<12 years old), adolescents (12-18 years old), and young adults. That’s a lot of liquid energy, and according to the Academy of Pediatrics, energy drinks can pose serious threats to children and youths. Of the 5448 US caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, 46% occurred in those younger than 19 years of age.
Caffeine is the main active ingredient in energy drinks. Many of these drinks contain 70 to 80 mg per 8-oz serving, approximately 3 times the concentration in cola drinks. The caffeine content of some energy drinks can be as high as five times that of cola drinks.
Although the US Food and Drug Administration limits caffeine content in soft drinks, which are categorized as food, there is no such regulation of energy drinks because they are classified as dietary supplements. However, energy drinks were recently given unique reporting codes so that the prevalence of related overdoses can now be tracked by US poison centers.
It seems to me that this should be a no–brainer. No drink with such high concentrations of caffeine, coupled with sugar, sweeteners, and health risks, should be the drink of our youths. They can get energy the old-fashioned way. You know, go to bed at night and get ample sleep, eat sensibly, and exercise. The last time I checked, that plan still worked and had no bad side effects. Parents do well to instill these disciplines in their children. In the aforementioned journal, it was concluded, “Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and many ingredients are understudied and not regulated.” Finally, note that energy drinks are not to be confused with sports drinks, which are totally different.