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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kids Should Not Consume Energy Drinks

Water should be the source of hydration, especially for children and adolescents.  Sports drinks - which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring - are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.  Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field or in the school lunchroom. Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don't need and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay.  It's better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals.  Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals.

Energy drinks contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine.  Caffeine - by far the most popular stimulant - has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.  Energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children and adolescents should avoid or restrict routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion.  Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.

If sports/energy drinks are consumed:

  • reduce the frequency and contact time;
  • swallow immediately and do not swish them around the mouth;
  • rinse mouthguards only in water;
  • seek out dentally friendly sports drinks;
  • discuss training and hydration protocol with a dentist.

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