Energy Drinks and why your child should not drink them

Does your child drink energy drinks? Brand names of these drinks include Monster, Rockstar, NOS, 5 hour energy, Red Bull, MIO energy, and Jolt.  Did you know that these drinks have been linked to harmful effects on the body? These effects range from a decrease in sleep, to anxiety, to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate and in some cases even death has been reported.

Energy drinks are increasingly marketed to adolescents.  The advertisements include a promise to enhance concentration and increase energy.  As the demands that are put on teens increase, the more these energy drinks appeal to them.  Many teens feel pressure to be exceptional students, star athletes, and an outstanding member of their community while holding down part time jobs so that they can get into the college or university of their choice.  In order to meet all these expectations, many teens sacrifice sleep and turn to energy drinks.

The number one ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine.  Some energy drinks contain ingredients such as guarana and taurine which are also stimulants like caffeine.  Many energy drinks unlike soda pop are considered dietary supplements and are not regulated by the FDA.  The FDA limits caffeine in soda pop to about 70 mg per 12 ounces and most contain much less than that.  However, many energy drinks contain well about this number per serving.  Would you let your child drink 14 cans of soda in one sitting?  A few energy drinks contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine in one can which would be the equivalent.

The number of Emergency Room visits that are linked to energy drinks has almost doubled from 2007 to 2011 reaching almost 21,000.  Several of these visits were made by teenagers that had consumed the ever so popular drinks.  In a teen who has an undiagnosed heart condition the end result could be tragic.  Regular use of energy drinks can also lead to caffeine dependence. Thus, when children go a day or two without drinking energy drinks they may exhibit signs of withdrawal. 

These would include:

  • fatigue
  • headache
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating

Contrary to the popular belief of teens that energy drink are the only way to meet today’s increasing demands there are other ways for them to increase their energy levels.  Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water is one way. Another way is exercising and getting an adequate amount of sleep. 

Take the time and educate yourself and your children on the negative health effects from energy drinks.  It could save you a scary trip to the Emergency Room or even save a life!