Kids shouldn’t drink energy drinks, and – unless they’re high-level athletes working flat-out for more than an hour at a time – don’t need sports drinks either. That’s the conclusion of an American Academy of Pediatrics report published online May 30.
Energy drinks contain caffeine (sometimes in massive doses that equal the amount in 14 cans of soda), guarana and taurine, stimulants that have been linked to harmful health effects on children’s brains and hearts.
Sports drinks are a lesser health threat, but have extra calories and sugar that can contribute to obesity and tooth decay, the report concludes. Unless a child is an athlete working for an extended period of time, she doesn’t need the extra carbohydrates, minerals and electrolytes intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.
Both types of products are marketed to, and popular among, children and adolescents. And in the case of sports drinks, kids are more likely to be drinking them during a tough bout of Nintendo than a tough day on the practice field. Even during most sports play, doctors say that water is best.
The best part? Water is cheap and easy to bring along in your own reusable bottles. If you're having difficulty getting your kids weaned off the sweet stuff, drop a few orange slices in for some added flavor. Kids too picky for that? Start slowly by watering down juice or sports drinks before handing them over.