Leading online provider of children’s health information, AboutKidsHealth, asks about the dangers of energy drinks> and looks into their increasing consumption by young people.
With over half of the energy drink market consisting of children, teenagers, and young adults no older than 25, it isn’t surprising that the bulk of the marketing efforts for these drinks are directed towards this younger demographic.
Advertised as fun, youthful, and above all, healthy, many children and teens are being caught up in the excitement of the fastest growing product of the U.S. beverage market.
Even Matthew Lee, voted athlete of the month at his Toronto high school, admits to having an energy drink from time to time. “A lot of people drink them during tournaments, I guess to boost their energy in between games since that’s what they’re good for,” says Matthew. However, sports aren’t the only time his peers drink energy drinks. “I know people who walk to the convenience store at lunch just to get one,” which should come as no surprise, since these drinks are advertised to be used in any type of situation.
Registered dietitian Ashley Murphy says that the lack of regulation on energy drinks is a large problem. “Health Canada does not recommend energy drinks for children, yet there are still no regulations in place to monitor their sales. This is definitely problematic since children can go to the corner store and buy energy drinks that could be harmful to their health.”
What’s important to know: there are normally very high levels of sugar, and the amount of caffeine in many energy drinks exceeds 500 mg, equivalent to the caffeine in 14 cans of pop. “By drinking just one can, children easily exceed their recommended maximum intake of caffeine,” says Murphy.
“Too much caffeine can affect a child’s behaviour, sleep patterns, and even their blood pressure,” says Murphy. Symptoms can range from upset stomachs, headaches, and bedwetting to irritability, anxiety, blood pressure increases, and even heart arrhythmias.
Since they are so easy to get hold of, parents and educators should be aware of the health risks of energy drinks and talk to children on the subject. Here are some important points to keep in mind from Health Canada:
- Children aged four to six years old should have no more than 46 mg of caffeine per day
- Children aged seven to nine years old should have no more than 62.5 mg of caffeine per day
- Children aged 10 to 12 years old should have no more than 85 mg of caffeine per day
- These recommended daily intakes for children are the equivalent to about one to two 12 oz. (355 ml) cans of pop per day
- Energy drinks can contain caffeine levels up to the equivalent of 14 cans!
- Adults should have no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day
- Energy drinks are not the same as sport drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, should not be used when exercising and are not a recommended component of good sports nutrition
- Sport drinks contain electrolytes, carbohydrates, and sugar, which can help the body stay hydrated and be broken down into usable energy
- There is a large amount of caffeine in energy drinks, which is the main form of energy, and leads to dehydration
- Just because something is for sale doesn’t mean it is safe for everyone
- Look for the Natural Product Number and read all warning labels
- Never mix energy drinks with alcohol
For more information on this topic, visit AboutKidsHealth or read the original article here:
AboutKidsHealth is the leading Canadian online source for trusted child health information, and has a scope and scale that is unique in the world. Developed by SickKids Learning Institute in collaboration with over 300 paediatric health specialists, the site provides parents, children, and community health care providers with evidence-based information about everyday parenting information, health and complex medical conditions, from what we can learn about resilience to childhood adversity from the dangers of energy drink to encouraging positive fatherhood via a barbershop project, to non-communicable disease in the developing world. AboutKidsHealth adheres to rigorous quality standards for the creation and review of health information.
Visit www.aboutkidshealth.ca to find out more.
For more information, please contact:
Sue Mackay, Communications
The Hospital for Sick Children
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