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

p>The manufacturer of Red Bull defended its drink, saying a can has about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and includes ingredients that European health officials have declared to be safe. However, users of energy drinks may chug them more quickly than they would hot coffee because they're served cold.

The authors of the current report and a study published in the journal Pediatrics last February pointed to statistics that showed about half of the nation's 5,448 reported caffeine overdoses in 2007 were in people under age 19, although it's not known how many of the cases were the result of energy drink consumption.

The study also reported that many teens consider energy drinks and sports drinks interchangeable, which they are not.

Sports drinks like Gatorade -- designed to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise -- have been around for decades, but they now come in a wider selection of flavors and types. The report raps them for coming with too many calories and potentially boosting the risk of obesity, weight gain and dental erosion. Most kids will do just fine drinking water instead, Schneider said.

However, "kids who are doing a lot of vigorous aerobic activity can benefit from sports drinks," she said. "For the rest of the crowd, it certainly doesn't need to be served at lunch. We want kids to be focusing on water and calcium."

If kids insist on sports drinks, Schneider said there are low-calorie types to consider.

The report appears in the May 30 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. David Weldy, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Toledo, said he hasn't seen young patients report problems due to energy drinks, and he acknowledged that direct evidence saying that they're harmful is lacking.

"There isn't a whole lot of research into these things," Weldy said.

But the drinks do seem to keep kids from sleeping and cause concentration pro
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