(NaturalHealth365) As part of a good nutrition plan, keeping your teenager hydrated is important – especially when playing sports. Bottled water, fruit juices, and protein shakes are some of the ways to keep them nourished. So, the question is: Do these popular energy drinks pose any health risk to our kids?
According to several surveys, nearly 70 percent of teens consume energy drinks. Most are juniors and seniors in high school, and nearly half play sports. While many of these beverages include some B and C vitamins, studies are warning kids under the age of 18 to stay away from these beverages as they have proven to be a high risk for injury, addiction (which may also lead to alcohol addiction), and health problems later in life.
Discover 4 reasons not to let your kids consume energy drinks
Reason #1: Energy drinks increase risk significantly for traumatic brain injuries in adolescents.
A recent study published in PLOS One determined higher incidences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adolescents consuming energy drinks and energy drinks mixed with alcohol. For this study, a TBI is defined as “a blow or a hit to the head that rendered the student unconscious for at least five minutes or resulted in hospitalization for at least one night.”
Compared to energy drink abstainers, occasional to infrequent drinkers had twice to nearly four times the risk of sustaining a TBI. Risk significantly increased to nearly seven times for energy drinkers who consumed five or more drinks in the past week. Consumers of mixed energy drinks and alcohol were the greatest at risk at 8 times, but the mixed drinkers only needed 6+ drinks within the past 12 months to be placed at high risk.
The study concluded that “adolescent energy drink use may be more positively associated with sensation seeking while engaging in sports activities,” thereby ending in more accidents. Some studies indicate the mixture of drinks increase risk taking behavior in teenagers; this may be due to the mixture of alcohol with caffeine.
Additionally, those who sustained a TBI became more frequent consumers of energy drinks (and alcohol). Whether singly or in combination with alcohol, this may represent a coping mechanism for those dealing with the effects of TBI.
Reason #2: Energy drinks lead to alcohol use in adolescents.
Another very recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, adolescents consuming energy drinks positively led to alcohol use. Therefore, the study declared energy drinks as a risk factor.
In one study, nearly 60 percent of teens admit to mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Deaths associated with energy drinks have been recorded in several countries: Australia, Ireland, and Sweden. Allegations and lawsuits have also been filed in the United States with many of these issues associated with the mixture of alcohol.
Reason #3: Energy drinks place kids at risk for chronic disease.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that teens who regularly consume energy drinks may have health issues later on in life. This may include chronic disease such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
They also stated that risk is greater when mixing alcohol with energy drinks. However, other studies such as one published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology stated that teens who overconsume energy drinks may predispose themselves to arrhythmias and heart disease before even reaching adulthood.
Reason #4: Energy drinks increase hyperactivity and inattention symptoms.
According to a new study published in the Academic Pediatrics journal, energy drinks placed middle school youth at significant risk levels for behavioral problems. The study documented the association between consumed sweetened beverages and behavior.
The risk for hyperactivity and inattention increased 14 percent for most beverages. For energy drinks, risk increased 66 percent. Boys were more at risk than girls.
Take action: Trade in those energy drinks for a healthier beverage.
Though energy drinks contain vitamins, they are mixed with caffeine and other chemical ingredients that lead to risky behavior, injuries, and health problems. It’s best to naturally replenish electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals with a beverage such as organic coconut water and protect your health.
About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.