Caffeine, sugar and energy drinks

Consuming energy drinks increases caloric consumption and may cause other problems due to caffeine especially for youth.

Are you looking for that extra burst of energy in the middle of the day? How about your teenagers? Are you or your teenagers consuming energy drinks? Frequently, parents question how safe energy drinks are, especially for teenagers.

Caffeine Content of Energy Drinks

Energy drinks contain caffeine and may contain other stimulants such as taurine and guarana. According to the Mayo Clinic, excess caffeine consumption can lead to irritability, nervousness, insomnia, an increase in heart rate and increased blood pressure. Caffeine consumption can be harmful for children with certain health risks. Another reason for concern is that the amount of caffeine in each type of drink varies considerably and the caffeine content may not be listed on the beverage container. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides a listing of caffeine content by specific energy drinks that shows caffeine content varying from 70 mg. to over 200 mg. per eight ounces. The AAP has also recommended that children and adolescents should avoid energy drinks altogether.

Calories from Energy Drinks

Energy drinks and other sugary beverages, like soda, add extra calories without other important nutrients that children and teens need for growth. For example, one popular energy drink contains 130 calories and 34 grams of carbohydrates in an 8.3 ounce serving. These calories and carbs in an energy drink are higher than a cola. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Report 2017  (NHANES) found that only 33 percent of youth ages two through 19 met the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for American recommendations to limit added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total calories.  With the higher prevalence of obesity in the United States, reducing sugar consumption is an important strategy towards achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.

Better Beverage choices

In order to avoid consuming caffeine and other stimulants from energy drinks and soda with added sugars, find other ways to quench thirst and to energize. Of course, water is the best choice when it comes to quenching thirst. Try adding fresh fruit slices, such as lemon or orange, to keep it interesting for kids. Low-fat milk and diluted fruit juices are also nutrient-rich choices. Limiting added sugars is recommended in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. Consumption of beverages with added sugars can easily increase sugar intake above 10 percent of calories, which makes it difficult to achieve a healthy eating pattern.  

Chose movement to increase energy

Physical activity increases our energy levels and burns calories too. The next time your children or teens are feeling tired in the middle of the afternoon, think carefully before reaching for an energy drink. Instead, suggest a short walk. Physical activity increases blood flow and results in feeling more energetic.

Did you find this article useful?