More and more young children and teenagers are drinking Energy Drinks. There are lots of problems with the addition of these drinks to kids' diets. First of all, caffeine is an addictive drug. It is dangerous to young people's developing brains and is not recommended for children or teenagers by health experts. Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause dehydration.
It can cause insomnia, restlessness, high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, heart palpitations, anxiety, headaches and adrenal exhaustion. While Mountain Dew contains 55 milligrams of caffeine in a 12 ounce serving, one 8 ounce serving of Monster has 75 milligrams of caffeine and a 16 ounce SoBe Adrenaline Rush includes 152 milligrams of caffeine. Because many of the cans for these drinks have gotten larger, kids are getting 2-3 times the caffeine listed on the label. In addition to the problems associated with the caffeine in energy drinks, the amount of sugar per serving is staggering.
The average energy drink has 28-40 grams of sugar. That is 7-10 packets of sugar. Because sugar is implicated in health issues ranging from depressed immune systems to obesity to diabetes to cancer, kids drinking these energy drinks are severely compromising their health.
The neuro-toxins that come along with sugar-free versions, in the form of artificial sweeteners, are like poison to the brain. So many energy drinks that children and teens are drinking are a mysterious blend of caffeine, sugar and herbs. The Medical Director from the Center of Integrative Medicine at the Encino-Tarzan Regional Medical Center says, "It just becomes more of a witches brew.
You're playing with things we don't really understand and the longterm consequences are unclear." Also, not to be overlooked, the companies who market energy drinks to kids are sending the message that kids need these drinks to get a buzz, to get through the day, to feel differently or to get a boost. Children start to believe they need drugs or other substances to get through the day. Instead of helping children choose healthy habits, like eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep, we are allowing them to use caffeine which can lead to poor habits and serious health issues. We have no idea what the short- or long-term health consequences of drinking energy drinks is for young people, but we can imagine they are not good.
One of the most important things for parents is to have healthy and happy children. We need to make parenting decisions that promote good health for our children . Energy drinks are not a 'treat' and young children should not be offered these drinks at parties or on special occasions; and say no to teenagers who want to drink them at home or in your presence, while educating them about the health consequences of drinking energy drinks.
Resources for this article: Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniski Energy Drink Hype: A Monster of Concern, newsletter by Brighton High School Counselors.
Angelle Batten, M.A., H.H.C., and Dr. Susan McCreadie, a Holistic M.D., created Nourish Your Kids to help moms raise healthier, happier children. http://www.nourishyourkids.com