Energy drinks can give us that extra boost to get through the day at work, school, or even during our workout. We're not just talking about coffee, tea, soda or sports drinks, but beverages that have additional caffeine and other stimulants. Energy drinks are marketed to enhance sports performance, delay fatigue, and increase alertness. But what are the risks involved with our kids drinking these beverages? The American College of Sports Medicine released a paper this month to define energy drinks, how they affect sports performance, and the dangers of our kids drinking them.
The effects of caffeine
Caffeine is the greatest health risk in energy drinks, which are commonly marketed to children and teens. Caffeine is known to enhance sports performance by reducing fatigue and improving reaction time. However, the negative effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and sleep disturbances. It can also increase anxiety in those with anxiety disorders and trigger an irregular heart rhythm.
Harmful doses of caffeine
Young children are at greater risk of harmful effects of caffeine because they weigh less. The threshold of caffeine toxicity in adults is about 400 mg a day. Whereas in a healthy adolescent (12-18 years), the threshold is 100 mg/day. For example, 16 ounces of an energy drink or coffee can contain up to 200 mg of caffeine. This amount may not be harmful in a healthy adult, but it can be dangerous in children and teens. Caffeine amounts may vary in energy drinks. Doses exceeding 500 mg may result in caffeine toxicity in children and young adults.
Educating kids and teens about the health risks
The ACSM, as well as other professional and educational organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Canada, and the National Federation of State High School Associations, recommend the following: