Use of Energy Drinks Should Be Discouraged in Children

Stimulants and calories in sports and energy drinks may lead to obesity and health risks

TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Sports and energy drink consumption is widespread, and youth should be made aware of the potential health risks of those drinks, according to a clinical report published online May 29 in Pediatrics.

Marcie Beth Schneider, M.D., from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Nutrition, and Holly J. Benjamin, M.D., from the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, reviewed available literature from 2000 to 2009 to define the ingredients in sports and energy drinks, categorize their similarities and differences, and investigate their use and misuse. They also assessed ways to improve education to decrease their inappropriate consumption.

The investigators found that sports and energy drink consumption is widespread, and youth do not differentiate between the two types of drinks. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, and electrolytes; whereas, energy drinks contain nonnutritive stimulants, including caffeine, which is not appropriate for consumption by youth. The high carbohydrate content in both sports and energy drinks may increase the risk for overweight and obesity; whereas, the low pH and citric acid may cause dental erosions. Routine annual checkups should include questions addressing use of these drinks and promote education to combat fatigue without the need for these drinks. Schools should be encouraged to have water freely available, restrict the use of sports drinks to athletes, and prohibit use of energy drinks. Education and counseling of both parents and children is recommended to understand the harms and avoid misuse.

"Energy drinks pose potential health risks primarily because of stimulant content; therefore, they are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should never be consumed," the authors write.

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