By Grace Vasquez
I remember growing up and smelling coffee early in the morning. Mom and dad drinking their cup of coffee just looked so delicious. I asked (often) if I could have some and they said, “No. It’ll stunt your growth.” Well, I didn’t enjoy coffee until I was in college and I’m still short. But I guess mom and dad knew the caffeine would be too much for my young self to handle. I probably was already naturally bouncing off the walls. So, why would any parent willingly give their kid caffeine?
When we think of kids drinking caffeine we automatically think they’ll just have a burst of energy that can drive a parent to cry but now, latest studies find there is some serious damage happening with some of these energy drinks loaded with sugar, caffeine and other ingredients.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released an official statement that says highly caffeinated energy drinks aren’t safe for children and teens, and shouldn’t be marketed to them.
University of Texas McGovern Medical School researcher Dr. John Higgins explains, “Our review of available science showed that excessive levels of caffeine found in energy drinks can have adverse effects on cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal and endocrine systems, as well as psychiatric symptoms.”
Teens and kids see more damage to their bodies because of their smaller body size, and “potentially heavy and frequent use.”
I think that’s the problem, “frequent use.” Like all store drinks, energy drinks are just yummy and too easily bought in place of soda.
The reality both sodas and energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and sugar. However, energy drinks also include some other ingredients that are harmful to teens/kids and are often marketed to be consumed around a sports event. Dr. Higgins warns parents do not allow your child to drink energy drinks before or after a heavy physical activity.
Here are the American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, recommendations:
- Stop marketing to at-risk groups, especially children. This includes marketing energy drinks at sporting events involving children and teens.
- Do not consume energy drinks before, during or after intense exercise. Some deaths linked with energy drinks occurred when a person consumed energy drinks before and/or after vigorous activity.
- Educate consumers about the differences between soda, coffee, sports drinks and energy drinks. Energy drink education should be included in school nutrition, health and wellness classes.
In my home, we grew up drinking tea but my parents could dilute it and controlled the amount of sugar. With obesity reaching so many children and teens today, energy drinks are adding to the problem.
Here’s my question: kids come with natural amounts of energy anyway, so why would they need an energy drink? ~grace