Energy drinks and sports drinks are super popular with kids but a new study from the Canadian Paediatric Society says kids and teens shouldn’t drink them because of health risks.
The study finds that sports drinks and caffeinated energy drinks (CEDs) pose potential risks for the health of children and adolescents and may contribute to things like obesity and cavities. It goes on to say that sports drinks are generally unnecessary for children engaged in routine physical activity.
CEDs may affect children and adolescents more than adults because they weigh less and thus experience greater exposure to stimulant ingredients per kilogram of body weight.
Co-author of the study Catherine Pounds says: “When it comes to sports drinks, while they might be marketed as rehydration tools during sports, most children simply don’t need them. Water does the same in terms of rehydration. And if anything, is better,” she said, referring to the fact that water is typically more quickly absorbed than sugary drinks. The other advantage of water, Pound says, is that it is sugar-free.
“And in a world where we already have an obesity and overweight epidemic, it’s important to realize these drinks can easily contribute to that,” she said. “As for energy drinks, the amount of caffeine in the drinks is simply not safe for children, says Pound, since they typically exceed Health Canada’s maximum daily intake recommended for kids.”
WHAT ARE SPORTS DRINKS?
Sports drinks are flavoured beverages that typically contain a mixture of sugars and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. They may also contain added vitamins, typically vitamin C or B vitamins. Sports drinks typically contain carbohydrates from sugar sources such as glucose-fructose (high-fructose corn syrup), sucrose or maltodextrin. Carbohydrate content in the range of 5 g to 14 g per 240 mL/8 oz serving is reported. Sports drinks may also contain low-calorie sweeteners, citric acid and natural and artificial fruit flavours.
Although sports drinks are marketed to optimize athletic performance, studies investigating positive benefits for children are pretty sparse. Most research has been conducted using adult athletes. Sweat rates during exercise are variable within and among children, making it difficult to establish the specific exercise duration after which sports drinks are warranted.
WHAT ARE CEDs?
CEDs claim to boost energy, decrease fatigue and enhance concentration. CEDs sold in Canada contain caffeine from either pure or synthetic caffeine or herbal ingredients, such as guarana or yerba mate. CEDs may be sweetened with various types of sugar, such as glucose–fructose and/or sucrose. They may also be artificially sweetened. Sugar is widely used in CEDs because it is considered a source of rapid ‘energy’. Also, the sweet taste of sugar is thought to encourage consumption. The quantity of sugar in CEDs ranges between 1 g and 43 g per 237 mL/8oz serving (up to 10 teaspoons), typically much more than in the average sports drink, and comparable to sugar quantities in soft drinks. Other common ingredients in CEDs include taurine, gingko biloba, ginseng, tryptophan, tyrosine, B vitamins, L-carnitine and alanine.
According to a recent Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program survey, the three reasons cited most frequently for consuming CEDs by adolescents were to: increase alertness, conform to peer pressure and improve sports performance .
BOTTOM LINE ON SPORTS DRINKS AND ENERGY DRINKS: The Canadian Paediatric Society would like to see legislation to prevent the marketing of these drinks to kids and teens. For the full study CLICK HERE.
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