We like the flavor of the beverages we drink. And parents seek a flavorful and suitable regular drink for their children that tastes better than just plain, old water and serves their good health.
A lot of youth like energy drinks and sports drinks. And parents believe they are doing a good thing for their children when they are convinced by advertising that a product is essential to good health. But many health care providers recommend water as the beverage of choice when you are replenishing fluids lost during a work out or sports activity. And they feel just as strongly about caffeine found in energy drinks, many sodas, as well as coffee and tea. Americans are not the only ones looking at the information in these studies. The multi-billion dollar market for energy and sports drinks extends around the globe..
Professionals in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, to name a few, refer to a U.S. study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness that finds "sports drinks are no more beneficial than water after normal exercise for children." The drinks are high in sugar content and increase risk of obesity. The acid in those drinks can damage tooth enamel. Extreme amounts of caffeine in energy drinks can elevate the heart rate, raise the blood pressure, affect speech, attention, motor activity and body temperature, the study says. Caffeine also dehydrates the body.
Children's brains continue to develop through age 21. The effects of the energy and sports drinks can affect that development. They are related to irritability, nervousness and sleeping problems for those who drink them.
"Energy drinks are beverages that typically contain caffeine, other plant-based stimulants, simple sugars and other additives," the researchers say. Water, experts say, is the first choice for hydration before, during and after exercise, generally speaking. Pediatricians advise that "children and teenagers should be drinking water, and lots of it. They also should be drinking two glasses of low-fat milk daily (lots of good protein, vitamin D and calcium) and perhaps two glasses of juice."
In Australia, the Australian Drug Foundation's Drug Info Clearinghouse indicates that "research shows children and young people who consume energy drinks may suffer sleeping problems, bed-wetting and anxiety."
In Canada, the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport says the labels on energy drinks "warn that they should not be used by children, pregnant women or breastfeeding women."
Some energy drinks have more than 500 mg of caffeine, equal to the caffeine found in 14 cans of soda. Youngsters are affected more than adults, because they are smaller.
According to Jerry Mayo, Ph.D. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., the three main goals of energy drinks, some originating as long ago as 1901, are to:
1.) prevent dehydration;
2.) replace electrolytes lost when perspiring heavily; and,
3.) provide carbohydrates needed during exercise.
This is not to say that athletes of all ages don't need to replenish potassium, sodium and sugar. They do. But a thorough workout is required to need to rehydrate the body. These drinks have a time, a place and an audience: rehydrating after an hour of intense physical activity.
Sodium replaces the salt that is lost during rigorous exercise that produces sweat. All professionals agree, it's not enough to just read a label. We need to understand what the products we are going to eat is going to do. Knowledge is the key to making sound decisions.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For more information about this topic, or about the education, prevention and treatment programs offered at FRC, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.