energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in
most cases kids don’t need them – and some of these products contain
substances that could be harmful to children.
In a new
clinical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines how
these products are being misused, discusses their ingredients, and
provides guidance to decrease or eliminate consumption by children and
adolescents. The report, “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate ?" is published in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 30).
“There is a lot
of confusion about sports drinks and energy drinks, and adolescents are
often unaware of the differences in these products,” said Marcie Beth
Schneider, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and
co-author of the report. “Some kids are drinking energy drinks –
containing large amounts of caffeine – when their goal is simply to
rehydrate after exercise. This means they are ingesting large amounts
of caffeine and other stimulants, which can be dangerous.”
and energy drinks are different products, said Holly J. Benjamin, MD,
FAAP, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports
Medicine and Fitness, and a co-author of the report. Sports drinks,
which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring, are
intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating
during exercise. Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes
engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases
they are unnecessary on the sports field or the school lunchroom.
children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,”
Dr. Benjamin said. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children
don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It’s
better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to
have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals.
Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals.”
contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants,
such as caffeine, guarana and taurine. Caffeine – by far the most
popular stimulant – has been linked to a number of harmful health
effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic
and cardiovascular systems. Energy drinks are never appropriate for
children or adolescents, said Dr. Schneider and Dr. Benjamin. In
general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be
The report contains tables listing specific products available today and their contents.
“In many cases,
it’s hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the
label,” Dr. Schneider said. “Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can
have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans
AAP recommendations include:
ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and
adolescents should be avoided or restricted, because they can increase
the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.