Children and teens might reach for an energy drink to help them wake up or a sports beverage marketed as a way to improve their performance. But they may not realize that the sugar and caffeine in these beverages can be harmful to their health.
Over time, drinks like soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade, sweetened water and energy drinks can increase the risk of excess weight gain, cavities, heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Energy drinks often have more caffeine than an espresso and a lot of sugar, said Tamara S. Hannon, M.D., M.S., FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Nutrition. Drinking these beverages can cause anxiety, hyperactivity, inattention, sensation-seeking and poor decision-making.
“They have a profound negative impact on sleep,” Dr. Hannon added.
In addition, caffeine in many of these drinks can be addictive. Children and adults who drink caffeine may have symptoms like headaches, irritability or fatigue after the effect of the caffeine wears off.
The AAP says adolescents should not consume energy drinks, and the National Federation of State High School Associations recommends young athletes not use energy drinks for hydration. Yet, 30%-50% of teens reported consuming these beverages.
In addition, up to 12% of secondary schools in some districts sell energy drinks in vending machines, school stores and snack bars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Parents should avoid giving their children sugary drinks and stick with milk and water. Plain water keeps children hydrated, and milk provides calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin A and zinc — all essential for healthy growth and development.
More information on healthy drink options is available from HealthyChildren.org at https://bit.ly/47ha3qF.