Kids and energy drinks: A deadly combination?

Growing up, I remember being excited when I got to choose a soda from the refrigerator at my grandparents' house. I didn't drink soda very often so this was a special treat. Honestly, I don't even think the soda was caffeinated. These days, it's pretty common to see tweens and teens drinking energy drinks. Unfortunately, the recent news of a "14-year-old girl who died after drinking two 24-ounce Monster Energy Drinks in 24 hours" is a reminder that these types of drinks can be harmful or even deadly to kids.

Why Do Kids Consume Energy Drinks?

A few months ago, I was in the drugstore when three tween boys got in line behind me to purchase Red Bulls. They were excited to drink the energy drinks because it was going to make them "have a lot of energy." In a way, I think these drinks are just another way to be cool. Yet, another problem kids face these days is being overscheduled. Many teens have a challenging school load and rigorous extracurricular activities. Energy drinks are an easy pick me up.

The Risks

The Monster Energy Drink comes in a 24-ounce can. This equates to "240 milligrams of caffeine" or "seven times the amount of caffeine found in a 12-ounce cola." To be fair, there is a warning label to discourage kids from drinking the energy drink. However, children are obviously not heeding the advice and this is putting them at risk. According to foxbusiness.com, the "risks associated with caffeine" are heightened in children. Furthermore, those who drink "caffeinated energy drinks are at risk to anxiety, high blood pressure and sleeplessness." While too much caffeine isn't good for anyone, kids typically weigh less and are also "still developing." This makes them more vulnerable to health issues associated with caffeine.

The Alternatives

When I was in college, I took a full load of classes and then some. I also worked part time. Without a car, I had to get up early to take the bus and often road my bike places. Despite staying up late to study, I don't think I ever had more than a cup of coffee a day. Now, with young kids, I sometimes only get four hours of sleep. However, I would never think of turning to an energy drink to take the place of sleep. Eating healthy, taking naps and drinking plenty of water helps me feel less tired. Eating protein after a workout is also helpful. If they do turn to caffeinated beverages, teens shouldn't have more than "100 milliliters of caffeine per day."

In a time where "being busy" is seen as a virtue, parents need to enforce a healthy lifestyles. Sleep, a healthy diet and time to relax are important for the well-being of kids, and, everyone.

Sources:

Monster Energy Drink Linked to Five Deaths, FDA Investigates latino.foxnews.com

Rogers, Kate Energy Drinks: Should Your Child Drink Them? Foxbusiness.com

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