Sunday, July 17, 2011

Use Caution With Sports and Energy Drinks In Children and Adolescents

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a report regarding the safety of energy and sports drinks in young athletes. Both types of drinks have become increasingly popular in children and teens, due to aggressive marketing and endorsement by professional athletes and celebrities. According to the AAP, there is a lot of confusion about these products and the differences between them. Some athletes are using energy drinks, which contain large amounts of caffeine, after exercise when their only goal is to rehydrate.

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring, and are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. However, these drinks contain a large amount of sugar and should be reserved only for after prolonged exercise--usually for more than an hour. They should not be used for routine meals and snacks due to their contribution to obesity and tooth decay.

Energy drinks, while very popular in teens and young adults, are never to be used by children. A standard energy drink contains as much caffeine as 10-14 cans of cola. Caffeine is addictive and has no nutritional value. Just like in coffee, caffeine is a stimulant--a drug--and should not be used by children. They often contain additional substances such as guarana and taurine, which are also powerful stimulants. Use of large amounts of energy drinks have shown to contribute to heart problems in teens.

So what should young athletes drink after games and practices? The answer isn't all that surprising: good old water! Water does the job to replenish fluids lost through sweat. For bouts of exercise under an hour, water is all that is necessary. Sports drinks have unneeded sugar that may contribute to obesity, especially when used routinely.

To read the full report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, click the link below:

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