With names like Rockstar, Monster and Full Throttle, it’s no wonder energy drinks have exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry. Add on the cool packaging and promises of improved physical and mental performance, and energy drinks become especially enticing to kids and teens.
But do these energy drinks really provide an extra jolt of energy? More importantly, is drinking them harmful?
According to a report recently published in the journal of Pediatrics, energy drinks can be dangerous for children and teens. The potential harms cited by the study’s authors include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death.
A few years ago I interviewed one of Akron Children’s dietitians about energy drink consumption after noticing this beverage trend in my own family. My stepson, who was away at college, kept his dorm fridge stocked with 24-oz., pomegranate-flavored Rockstar cans.
I have to admit after trying it, I can understand the allure. But a single can contains as much as 240 mg of caffeine, which is way more than the daily recommended amount for kids and teens.
“In teens, consuming more than 100 mg of caffeine per day has been associated with an increase in blood pressure,” said Akron Children’s Hospital dietitian Sally Phillips.
Too much caffeine consumption can also result in jitteriness and nervousness, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating/reduced attention span and increased heart rate.
It doesn’t take much to produce these effects in young children, and certain medications or supplements may also worsen caffeine’s side effects.
Many kids today have jam-packed schedules and are operating on a lack of sleep, so they may turn to energy drinks for a quick pick-me-up. And once it’s in the body, it takes about 12 hours to eliminate caffeine. The effects are increased for kids whose bodies are smaller.
This recent journal article highlights the importance of talking to kids about energy drinks and caffeine intake, in general. While they may not want to hear it, there’s no substitute for the energy boost you can get from a well-balanced diet, physical activity and plenty of rest.