Are Health Drinks Healthy for Children?



Health drinks that are being marketed to boost energy, endurance and performance indeed do so.

The key ingredient, disguised under the health effects of a wide variety of amino acids, B vitamins, and herbal supplements, is caffeine in most of them.

So, are energy drinks healthy for our children, teenagers and youths?

Enticing aggressive marketing

Markets are flooded and commercials are so very convincing; all a big business gimmick?

"Energy drinks" is a big market preposition in modern times. It’s the fastest growing beverage market around the world that mainly targets children, teenagers and young adults. Aggressive colorful marketing entices even the preschoolers.

Information overload is confusing the parents. Commercial traps are getting more and more difficult to evade and differentiate from authentic child health related information.

Zero nutritional value

Caffeine is an addictive drug; very much like nicotine in tobacco, and alcohol in beer. Children get the kick to keep the enthusiasm at upbeat all day long.

No wonder, irrespective of numerous negative effects and zero nutritional value, energy drinks have become an integral part of modern teenage culture. Caffeine has even made its way in to children’s diets disguised as taste and flavour adjuvant in various instant health drinks and meals!

Yes, chocolate and coffee are also rich in caffeine, the only potent brain stimulant with in everyone’s reach.

An average cup of coffee provides 80-175 milligrams of caffeine, and its content in the commercial health beverages is unregulated. However, caffeine content in chocolate is low, but the amount of intake would determine its effects.
(List of health drinks and their caffeine content)

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Serious health hazards are possible

Consumption of more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day by an adult, results in over stimulation of the nervous system. Habituation occurs quickly and is hard to break. Withdrawal symptoms are too many and often nerve racking. Consequently, relapses are frequent.

The numerous negative effects of caffeine taken in several hot and cold beverages are overlooked in view of their popularity as energy drinks.

Rapid growth in the consumption of the energy drinks have resulted in increasing reports of serious health hazards among children and teenagers. Consequences are often devastating among children on chronic medications for diseases like seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, mood swings and behavioral disorders.

Acute caffeine intoxication, as a result of heavy indulgence in energy drinks, can be life threatening.

Statistics show that almost 50 percent of hospital admissions due caffeine overdose were children below 19 years of age.

Health drinks have no health benefit, and many ingredients are understudied, and not regulated.

The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, are a cause for concern. Potentially serious adverse effects in association with health drinks consumption is a possibility.

References:

  1. Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults; by Sara M. Seifert, Judith L. Schaechter, Eugene R. Hershorin and Steven E. Lipshultz; Pediatrics 2011;127;511
  2. Energy Drinks: The new eye-opener for adolescents; by Kavita M. Babu, MD, Richard James Church, MD, William Lewander, MD; Clin Ped Emerg Med 9:35-42 C 2008 Published by Elsevier Inc.

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