Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pediatricians say Energy Drinks for Kids = Bad Idea?

Making the rounds early this week is news of a recent study that highlights the use, overuse and possible confusion among adolescents and energy as well as sports drinks. From the abstract of the study:
  Sports and energy drinks are being marketed to children and adolescents for a wide variety of inappropriate uses. Sports drinks and energy drinks are significantly different products, and the terms should not be used interchangeably. The primary objectives of this clinical report are to define the ingredients of sports and energy drinks, categorize the similarities and differences between the products, and discuss misuses and abuses. Secondary objectives are to encourage screening during annual physical examinations for sports and energy drink use, to understand the reasons why youth consumption is widespread, and to improve education aimed at decreasing or eliminating the inappropriate use of these beverages by children and adolescents. Rigorous review and analysis of the literature reveal that caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents. Furthermore, frequent or excessive intake of caloric sports drinks can substantially increase the risk for overweight or obesity in children and adolescents. Discussion regarding the appropriate use of sports drinks in the youth athlete who participates regularly in endurance or high-intensity sports and vigorous physical activity is beyond the scope of this report.

From the report:
Confusion about energy by young people can lead to unintentional ingestion of energy drinks when their goal

is simply to rehydrate and replenish carbohydrate, electrolytes, and water with sports drinks."

There is clearly a proliferation of sports drinks on the field of play for children as young as 8-10 years of age. As a coach of youth sports, it is not uncommon to see a child lugging a sports drink bottle to practice or a game. I try to counsel the parents that for activities like soccer, anyone under 15 should drink water.  Sports drinks are a different class of fluid than an energy drink. Unfortunately, some children don't know the difference. Now, we have a clinical report to back up what many have believed - their is rampant misuse of these drinks, and education on them has to start now. 

This report goes on to explain to pediatricians:   

Understand that 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