American doctors said in a new report that kids and teens need to avoid energy drinks and only consume sports drinks in a limited amount.
The recommendations come during a time of national debate on energy drinks, which some fear may have side effects.
“Children never need energy drinks,” Dr. Holly Benjamin, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who worked on the new report told Reuters. “They contain caffeine and other stimulant substances that aren’t nutritional, so you don’t need them.”
“If you drink them on a regular basis, it stresses the body,” Benjamin told Reuters Health. “You don’t really want to stress the body of a person that’s growing.”
Researchers went through earlier studies and reports on both energy drinks and sports drinks, which do not contain any stimulants.
They said that energy drinks contain a jumble of ingredients with possible side effects that are not always well understood.
Benjamin said that although there are not many documented cases of harm directly linked to the beverages, stimulants can disturb the heart’s rhythm and may lead to seizures in very rare cases.
Earlier this year, Pediatrics published another review of the literature on energy drinks.
Pediatricians in Florida described cases of seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney or liver damage in people who had drunk one or more non-alcoholic energy drinks.
U.S. sales of non-alcoholic energy drinks are expected to hit $9 billion this year, with children and young adults accounting for half the market.
Manufacturers claim their products will enhance both mental and physical performance, and were quick to downplay the February report.
“The effects of caffeine are well-known and as an 8.4 oz can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (80 mg), it should be treated accordingly,” Red Bull told Reuters Health.
Benjamin said that water is the best thirst quencher for most kids.
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