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Energy drinks in Pediatrics: a danger to kids and young adults with serious medical problems

8 March, 2011
‘Pediatrics’ study disputes energy-drink claims. usatoday.com. February 13, 2011. By Nanci Hellmich. Some young people gulp drinks such as Red Bull, Full Throttle and Rockstar to boost their energy, concentration and athletic performance. But the caffeinated energy drinks don’t appear to provide the purported benefits and can cause problems, including serious medical complications, says a review of the scientific literature published online today in Pediatrics. The paper is already drawing criticism from the beverage industry, which says energy drinks have no more caffeine than a cup of coffee and aren’t widely used by kids and teens. Read more…
See original paper:
Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
Energy drinks in Pediatrics: a danger to kids and young adults with serious medical problems
Steven Lipshultz, chair of pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and colleagues reviewed 121 scientific studies, government reports and media sources on energy drinks — different from sports drinks, vitamin waters and sodas.

Energy drinks usually contain 70 to 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8-oz. serving, more than double many cola drinks. Energy drinks also may contain guarana, a plant that contains caffeine, taurine (an amino acid), vitamins, herbal supplements and sweeteners.

Surveys show that 30% to 50% of teens and young adults consume energy drinks, but "we didn’t see evidence that drinks have beneficial effects in improving energy, weight loss, stamina, athletic performance and concentration," Lipshultz says.

And the research shows that children and teens — especially those with cardiovascular, renal or liver disease, seizures, diabetes, mood and behavior disorders and hyperthyroidism — are at a higher risk for health complications from these drinks, says Lipshultz, a pediatric cardiologist.

He encourages pediatricians and parents to talk to kids and teens about whether they should be drinking such beverages.

Maureen Storey of the American Beverage Association, an industry group, said in a statement that "this literature review does nothing more than perpetuate misinformation about energy drinks, their ingredients and the regulatory process."

She says government data indicate that the "caffeine consumed from energy drinks for those under the age of 18 is less than the caffeine derived from all other sources including soft drinks, coffee and teas."

Red Bull said in a statement that the study "largely ignores in its conclusions the genuine, scientifically rigorous examination of energy drinks by reputable national authorities. … The effects of caffeine are well-known, and as an 8.4-oz. can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (80 milligrams), it should be treated accordingly."


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