Energy Drinks

  • Sports and energy drinks containing caffeine are increasingly popular with children.  A new report says most children should not drink them, even if they are very active. 
  • Energy drinks promise a quick pick-me-up, but that quick boost of energy is quickly gone, leaving you severely depleted and with some negative effects on the body.
  • Energy drinks contain stimulants like caffeine; and some of the energy drinks contain so much of them, that it is equal to drinking up to 14 cans of caffeinated soda.  Scientists say caffeine can affect the development of a child’s nervous system and cardiovascular system.
  • Manufacturers.  Caffeine is combined with other substances such as alcohol in order to intensify its effects.  In addition, energy drinks often come in large containers and are frequently loaded with calorie-heavy sugars. 

  • Youth and college-age consumers are targeted very aggressively by marketing techniques.
  • Performance enhancers.  Caffeine is often used as a performance enhancer among high school and college athletes.  Many sports programs have banned caffeinated energy drinks as a form of cheating.  
  • Initial doses of caffeine can yield increased athletic performance, energy, alertness and heart rate.  As caffeine begins to wear off, effects can include rebound headaches, sluggishness, fatigue, light-headedness and depression.  These crash effects often motivate users to increase caffeine consumption, and the cycle repeats.  
  • Some student athletes who drank energy drinks to stay alert and focused, were actually fainting.  The combination of the fluid lost from sweating and the diuretic quality of the drinks (which makes it hard for the body to absorb water) was leaving these athletes severely depleted. 

  • Many parents and coaches encourage kids to consume energy drinks as performance-enhancing drugs, which is what energy drinks truly are.  Kids’ bodies cannot handle large doses of caffeine all at once.  The amount of caffeine is often not labeled in energy drinks.  We are unwisely saying to a child, "When you are tired, don't take a nap.  Drink a drink.  When you have worked hard, and it is time to go to bed and you want to do more, have a supplement, so you can do more."  That is not the right message, and it is harming kids as evidenced by the large number of energy room visits.  My advice to kids:  Eat real food, drink water and milk, and go to bed on time."  (Dr. David Agus, CBS News, August 1, 2013)
  • The greatest physical concern may be the body’s build up of tolerance to these drinks.  People then have to drink more and more to feel the same effect.  In some cases this escalating cycle has opened the door to experimentation with pills and alcohol.    

  • Unintentional Poisoning.   The data from more than 50 poison control centers in the U.S. reported that over the last 2 years, more than half of all calls were energy drink-related.  Symptoms were jittery behavior, rapid heart rates, high blood pressure, dangerously high blood sugar levels in diabetic children, seizures, and dangerous heart rhythms.  These incidents  occurred in children less than age 6.  A high number of those calls were directed by the Poison Control Center to seek medical help. 

    “The FDA advises that certain people, including children and pregnant women, limit consumption of products containing caffeine, including energy drinks.”     Dr. Steven Lipshultz, Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Oz Show, March 26, 2013
  • Energy drinks caused 20,000 emergency room visits in 2011. 

  • Risks of too much caffeine in kids.  Heart arrhythmia, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, panic syndrome, and changes in blood pressure. 

  • The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is often not labeled.  They contain more than twice the amount of caffeine as an 8 oz. cup of coffee (100 mg).  Coca Cola's NOS contains 260 mg, and Monster's Worx contains 200 mg. caffeine. 
What You Can Do
  • Drink Water.  Pediatricians say the best way to keep young people hydrated is just plain water before, during and after practice.  American Academy of Pediatrics, and KREM-2 TV, May 2011
  • Seek help from parents and medical professionals. 
  • Turn to natural sources of energy.  The best way to avoid a negative behavior is to replace it with a positive one.  If energy is what you seek, find it through more exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a nutritious diet. 

  • Energy drinks in Schools.   If your child’s school makes energy drinks available, talk to the staff about how energy drinks might affect children’s behavior, as well as their health.