Family Safety Tip: Kids and Energy Drinks
Sports and energy drinks are hugely popular with kids. But the nation’s pediatricians are not such big fans. They’re now telling kids to lay off the energy drinks, and to use sports drinks only when they really need them — like when they’re playing sports.
A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that energy drinks, or any other drink with caffeine, should be off limits to children and teenagers. That includes colas and coffee drinks.
Caffeine not only interferes with sleep, it can cause anxiety, raise heartbeats, and increase the risk of dehydration. “There’s great concern about what [caffeine] does over time or in high doses to a young, growing body that’s not fully mature,” says Dr. Holly Benjamin. She is a pediatric sports medicine specialist at the University of Chicago, and coauthor of the new report, which was published in Pediatrics. “It’s almost like a stress to your body.”
Sports drinks don’t have that problem, but they do have sugar as the primary ingredient. That causes another problem. “Kids will drink a Gatorade after school,” Benjamin says. “They’ll drink a Gatorade at lunch. They’ll drink a Gatorade with dinner.”
All that sugar can contribute to obesity and tooth decay, the pediatricians say. Instead, children and teenagers should be drinking water, and lots of it. They also should be drinking two glasses of low-fat milk daily (lots of good protein, vitamin D, and calcium), and perhaps one or two glasses of juice. Benjamin says: “Other than that it’s water, water, water.”