Study discourages energy drinks for kids and teens

Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) – Energy drinks have become such big business sales are expected to top $9 billion in 2011. They are particularly popular with young people.

"If I have homework and I need to stay up late, or I'm going out, (and need to) wake up, they give me a little energy. But I feel like one's not enough. You need two," said Shelby Matevich, a student at the University of Hawaii.

"It just wakes me up. Sometimes I wake up in the mornings and I'm not ready to go yet. I haven't rebooted yet. I'll just grab an energy drink and help myself reboot," added Sara Azar, another U.H. Manoa student.

Research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests people looking for a quick pick-me-up may get more than they bargained for when drinking energy drinks.

Researchers at the University of Miami, who wrote the Pediatrics report, conclude energy drinks may cause "…seizures, stroke and even sudden death." They say the drinks pose a risk for serious adverse health effects in some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood disorders.

"Until further research establishes their safety, routine energy drinks usage by children and teen-agers should be discouraged," said Steven Lipshultz, M.D., chair of pediatrics at Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.

The drinks are loaded with sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants.

"I would recommend, if it was my young child, to just drink milk, juice, water," said Jennifer Davis, a registered dietician at the Queen's Medical Center.

"I wouldn't be allowing these energy drinks for children or teens during the developmental years. As for young adults, I think they need to be educated on what they are consuming and be really really careful when it comes to mixing any of these energy drinks with alcohol," Davis said.

Some of the stimulants in energy drinks are classified as herbal supplements and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"So they are not always studied and we don't always know the long term effects and exactly how they might effect - - especially kids," Davis told Hawaii News Now.

Davis pointed out there are ways to perk without energy drinks.

"Make sure you get enough sleep so you can start your day with some real energy and you are not relying on caffeine to sort of get that boost through the day. So sleep is really important, and make sure you start your day with breakfast because otherwise you are basically running on empty," she added.

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