I’ll begin by saying that I don’t drink ‘energy drinks’, and I don’t let my kids drink them either, just as I don’t let them drink coffee. So I’m a bit biased. I’d rather have my children drinking lots of water, or fresh juice or a smoothie, than I would have them drinking a flavored and colored and sweetened version of water.
But for many people who eat a mainstream or standard American diet, soft drinks with caffeine in them are considered acceptable for both kids and adults alike, and the ubiquitous ‘energy drinks’ are fast approaching that level of acceptability.
On the surface, a little caffeine in an adult’s diet is not cause for concern, but when levels of that little happy alkaloid in the blood stream rises (and stays) at a higher level, it can lead to some serious health effects.
And when children and teenagers, who are in the growing prime of their life (body-wise), start down the road of consuming lots of sodas and energy drinks, they could be setting themselves up for some nasty side-effects.
Some brands of energy drinks contain as much as 11 times more caffeine than an average Coke, and enough sweetener to help it go down smoothly, making it easy to ingest a lot of caffeine over a short period of time. But barring any 13 year old PhD candidates or athletic prodigies, I can’t think of a reason why a child, even a teenager, would need an energy drink to a) stay awake, or b) enhance their athletic performance.
Here’s a brief look at energy drinks, courtesy of The Family Compass: