Keep kids away from energy drinks

Keep kids away from energy drinks

In a new report, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has outlined how these products are being misused.

"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, 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," she said, reports the journal Paediatrics.

Sports drinks and energy drinks are different products, said Holly J. Benjamin, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and a co-author of the report, according to an AAP statement.

Sports drinks, which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavouring, are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.

"For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best," Benjamin said. "Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don't need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay."

Energy drinks 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 Schneider and Benjamin. In general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided.

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