The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a report warning that children and adolescents should not consume energy drinks because the beverages “pose potential health risks.” Titled “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate?”, the report appears in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics.

Sports drinks and energy drinks are not the same, the report says, noting that sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. “Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engages in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field or the school lunchroom,” according to the report.

Energy drinks, however, “are never appropriate for children or adolescents,”
and should be avoided because they contain stimulants, such as caffeine,
guarana and taurine, the report says. “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,”
according to the report. “In general, caffeine-containing beverages, including
soda, should be avoided.”

AAP also recommends that (i) “pediatricians should highlight the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks with patients and their parents, and talk about the potential health risks”; (ii) “routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted, because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion”; and (iii) “water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.” See AAP Press Release, May 30, 2011.

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