Physicians warn about energy drinks

Children and teens are at high risk for complications


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The American College of Sports Medicine is warning about the dangers that energy drinks present to at-risk populations, primarily children and teenagers.

Energy drinks are highly caffeinated beverages that often contain a myriad of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbal mixtures.

“When used safely and with moderation, energy drinks may have some short-term, performance-enhancing effects,” said John Higgins, MD. "However, users are generally unaware of the many potential adverse reactions that could have long-term effects, some of which are quite serious."

Children and adolescents appear to be at particularly high risk of complications from energy drinks because of their small body size and being relatively caffeine naive. The college says target marketing to children and adolescents should not be permitted.

The college also recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women, caffeine naïve or sensitive individuals, or people with cardiovascular or medical conditions avoid energy drinks. They should not be used for sports hydration, and should not be mixed with alcohol.

Do not use energy drinks before, during, or after strenuous exercise, regardless of health and fitness level, until proper safety and efficacy data are available. Some of the deaths allegedly due to energy drinks have occurred when a person consumed energy drinks before or after performing strenuous activities.

“Energy drinks are extremely popular and concerns about their consumption are coming from every sector of society,” said Higgins. “Our review of the available science showed that excessive levels of caffeine found in energy drinks can have adverse effects on cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal and endocrine systems, as well as psychiatric symptoms. More needs to be done to protect children and adolescents, as well as adults with cardiovascular or other medical conditions.”

Source: American College of Sports Medicine: acsm.org



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