The Harms of Energy Drinks

Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children

The following information was from a statement made within the editorial of a previous issue of Infectious Diseases in Children. This warning, co-written by a professor of pediatrics and a medical student, along with a review of the scientific literature issued the following warnings about energy drinks:

  • The FDA does not require the disclosure of caffeine content
  • About one-third of adolescents consume energy drinks in the United States
  • Between 2010 and 2011, according to a report from the U.S. National Poison Data System, 5,000 poison control calls were related to energy drinks

The health implications, research shows, are: sleep disorders, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), adolescents should not exceed more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, yet some energy drinks contain more than 500 milligrams of caffeine, in addition to added sugars and corn syrup. The AAP also came out with the statement: “Energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”

To these warnings, I add a couple of concerns. During teen-hood, a child’s brain is going through amazing changes, so it makes sense that this is not the time to mess with brain-altering chemical stimulants. Adolescents frequently report that while they get more energy during the day, they don’t sleep well at night, get headaches, tummy aches, and increased anxiety.

So, parents, consider energy drinks a “drug,” and certainly one of the challenges for we parents of teens is to keep their brains as drug-free as possible.

Dr. Bill Sears