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Pediatricians Group Raps Energy and Sports Drinks for Kids
Date:5/31/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although sports drinks and energy drinks are marketed heavily toward children and teens, a leading association of pediatricians is sounding the alarm about these beverages for kids.

Young children and teens should avoid energy drinks entirely, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a report issued Monday, and routine consumption of sports drinks should be limited or eliminated.

"There's no place for energy drinks for kids," said report co-author Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, an adolescent physician in Greenwich, Conn. "There's a place for sports drinks, but that place is very specific."

Energy drinks include such popular brands as Red Bull, AMP and Rockstar and tend to be heavily caffeinated, potentially having several times the level of caffeine found in a cup of coffee. Manufacturers often add sugar and herbal stimulants such as guarana and taurine to the drinks, which are popular among kids.

The caffeine and herbal stimulants found in energy drinks can be dangerous to kids, the researchers noted. Some cans or bottles of energy drinks, in fact, may contain more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to the caffeine found in 14 cans of caffeinated soda, according to Schneider.

The caffeine in energy drinks can lead to high blood pressure, high heart rate and insomnia, said Schneider. The other ingredients can boost the power of the caffeine, she said, adding that the drinks will have a greater effect on children because they're smaller than adults.

"Kids don't need to have this," she said. "This is not something they should be drinking."

Schneider declined to identify any energy drinks that may be better than others for kids who insist on drinking them. If kids use energy drinks because they're tired, she said, they should get more rest instead of chugging caffeine. "It's not a solution," she said.

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