Sports and energy drinks are very popular beverages that are heavily marketed to children and adolescents. While commonly thought of as the same product, they are quite different in their composition.
Sports drinks are beverages that may contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring and are intended to replenish water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Energy drinks typically contain caffeine, other plant-based stimulants, simple sugars, and other additives. The level of caffeine contained in many energy drinks is excessive and often difficult to determine from the labeling on the can. Some energy drinks contain more than 500 mg of caffeine - equivalent to 14 cans of common caffeinated soft drinks - and can result in toxicity .
The caloric content is an issue for both sports drinks and energy drinks. Sports drinks contain 10 to 70 calories per serving, and the caloric content of energy drinks ranges from 10 to 270 calories per serving.
Prevalence of Use
Energy drinks are very popular among youth and are regularly consumed by 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds
From 1989-2008, the percentage of American children ages 6 to 11 consuming sports drinks increased significantly, from 2 percent to 12 percent
The carbohydrates in sports drinks can lead to excessive caloric intake, which can increase children’s and adolescents’ risk for overweight and obesity.
Health concerns regarding caffeine consumption by children include its effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems, sleep disturbances, increase in anxiety and the risk of physical dependence and addiction. A lethal dose of caffeine is considered to be 200 to 400 mg/kg.
Dental erosions from sports and energy drinks are of concern in children and adolescents due to the acidity of the beverages.
As a parent:
Help your child understand that only those people participating in sports programs involving prolonged vigorous physical activity actually may benefit from sports drinks.
Do not purchase sports or energy drinks for your household - encourage water and milk as preferred family beverages. Sports and energy drinks are not indicated for use during meals or snacks as a replacement for low-fat milk or water.
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