It’s Spring soccer for the kids. We take the field, watch our kids run in a herd towards the goal and come back to the sideline for a short pep talk. Then, it is halftime. The mom in charge of snacks rolls her big cooler to the sideline and pulls out the energy drinks. I used to think, “Is this necessary? These kids have hardly exerted themselves. How about water bottles?”
Energy drinks are found everywhere someone is playing a sport. Our teens are consuming these drinks at the rate of 38%, and 15% say they have an energy drink at least one a week. From what I have seen, downing those drinks is not usually related to vigorous sports play.
So should our young kids and teens be consuming these drinks? Are there side effects?
A study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Duke University would probably support my cry for water bottles. Here are the problems:
1) Energy drinks are high in sugar and other calories which makes them a factor in weight gain and tooth decay. We know what a problem childhood obesity is and most parents know the cost of dental care!
2) Boys who drink energy drinks at least weekly spend at least 4 more hours playing video games a week compared to those who drink less than one a week. The more drinks, the more energy to play games it appears. But again, we are seeing more sedentary behavior linked to childhood obesity.
3) Both boys and girls energy and sports drink consumption was related to smoking.
4) Sports drinks are recommended only for vigorous, prolonged activity. Consuming them as a snack puts a child at risk for overstimulation of the nervous system.
It takes a high level of play to warrant the need for energy drinks. So soccer, baseball, T-ball and other league moms, go for the cases of water, oranges and other fruit as snacks. The kids may not like to lose the energy drinks and candy bars, but sometimes you have to be the grown up!
Source: Nicole Larson, Jessica DeWolfe, Mary Story, and Diane Neumark-Sztainer, Adolescent Consumption of Sports and Energy Drinks: Linkage to Higher Physical Activity, Unhealthy Beverage Patterns, Cigarette Smoking, and Screen Media Use. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 46, May-JUne 2014, 181-187