Why You Need to Stop Giving Energy and Sports Drinks to Kids

Last updated on September 16th, 2018 at 02:59 pm

First let’s differentiate between these two popular drinks.  Sport drinks have water, sodium, potassium and sugar (among other things), while energy drinks include caffeine or other stimulants. For the most part, after moderate exercise, only water needs to be replaced and free access to water is key to training athletes.  While large amounts of water can be lost in highly trained athletes, younger children will probably not lose an exceptional amount of anything, and water is the only thing necessary.  Even in adult trained athletes, the amount of sodium and potassium lost through sweating is probably negligible; again water is the vital component needing replacement.

Also included in these drinks is a significant amount of calorie- containing sugars; highly trained athletes who have depleted their sugar resources might benefit from this addition as an immediate energy boost, but in younger children and non-training athletes, this only adds to the sugar intake and can contribute to childhood obesity and dental cavities.  These same stimulants can be found in coffee and colas, also to be avoided in younger children.

The use of stimulants in children probably has more unwanted side effects than the possibility of any positive effects. Jitteriness, poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and increased  risk of dehydration through the diuretic effects of caffeine and other stimulants, can be just a few of these negative effects.  Depending on the quantities consumed, it can even lead to cardiac irregularities with other potentially serious consequences resulting from that

Unfortunately, these products are promoted in every form of advertising by highly popular athletes in high profile positions and many parents have gotten the idea to have these drinks readily available for their children.  Children may actually prefer this substitute fluid in place of other drinks during meals and other snack times.  Milk and some juices are still important to the growing, developing child and should not be forgotten.  By far the most important ingredient remains water and parents should promote it as the primary source of fluid intake.

Energy or health bars create the same dilemmas for parents and children and may also contain sugar, stimulants, fats, and vitamins and minerals that may not be appropriate for children or may be over the daily recommended intake for children since most are developed for adults.

Always read the labels carefully

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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