DOCTOR IS IN: All sports and energy drinks are not created equal

BY ROSHNI PATEL, M.D.

Associate Medical Director of Urgent Care Services at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and Hughes Spalding.  She is also the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine within the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

patelDoes it feel like you can’t go anywhere without hearing about the latest fad in sports or energy drinks? Some claim to give you more energy throughout the day, lose weight or even prepare you to train for the Olympics.

Several of these types of beverages are strategically marketed toward youth as well, promising extra nutrition, concentration, energy and performance enhancers, to name a few.

But, after glancing over the fancy packaging, you learn that most contain large amounts of sugar, caffeine or ingredients that are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some of these ingredients include:

Guarana—a source of caffeine thought to aid in weight loss

Taurine—an amino acid thought to enhance caffeine’s effect

Ginseng—a plant believed to have medicinal properties

These kinds of ingredients can be harmful to your child, especially if he is on medication or has a health problem. As a parent, make yourself aware of the ingredients by carefully reading nutrition labels, and teach your children what to look out for.

For some kids, these drinks can cause anxiety attacks, sleep problems, dehydration, upset stomach, jitters, rapid heart rate and headaches. Recent reports also have found sports and energy drinks to even be harmful to your child’s teeth, as they damage the enamel when sipped over long periods of time. Check with your primary care pediatrician to find out if sports and energy drinks are safe for your child.

If taken in moderation, most kids will not experience any side effects from these drinks.

However, there is always a healthier alternative.

Water and milk are among the safest, not only for obvious health reasons, such as hydration and calcium, but they also will save you a few bucks in grocery bills, as they are less expensive than sports and energy drinks. You also may try incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables, and a daily multivitamin to your kid’s diet to provide the same, if not better effects, of sports and energy drinks. Sweetened fruit juice and soda should be consumed in limited quantities, as most are filled with sugar, empty carbohydrates and calories.

Although we can’t always control everything our kids do, we can educate them about nutrition and encourage then to make healthy choices. Visit www.myfamilyhealthspot.org to learn more about healthier options for you and your kids.

  • (Information provided by Children’s Healthcare on this site is intended solely for general educational purposes and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your health and medical condition. If you rely on any information available through this website, you do so at your own risk. You understand that you are solely responsible for any damage or loss you may incur that results from your use of or reliance on any material or information provided by Children’s Healthcare through this website.)
  • Get your health news, Atlanta. Feel better. Visit ajc.com/health

4 comments Add your comment

Shananeeee Faneneeeeeee

October 6th, 2009
1:28 pm

Yeah Gatorade is #1, I wonder why DAWG fans? 49-10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

alibel

October 6th, 2009
4:46 pm

Who the heck would give their kids energy drinks to begin with?! We need to stop pumping our kids full of crap. Quicker & easier doesn’t always mean better.

tanner

October 6th, 2009
6:18 pm

shananeeeee which one of these drinks will allow teabag to remember where his car keys are..

Mick

June 25th, 2010
11:32 pm

That’s why I believe in Efusjon, my kids like the Raw (non caffeine) drink.

http://www.efusjonstl.com