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Kids Should Avoid Energy and Sports Drinks, Says AAP

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With the approach of summer and kids getting ever hotter and sweatier, keeping kids hydrated is top of mind for many parents—and many keep sports drinks like Gatorade on hand for consumption on hot, sunny days. But parents may want to re-think their approach to re-hydrating as the American Academy of Pediatrics just released a new clinical report on Monday addressing kids’ consumption of energy and sports drinks. In the report, “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate?”, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness outline the differences between sports drinks and energy drinks and address how they may actually harm kids. 

Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring (along with plenty of calories) and are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. According to the AAP, frequent consumption of sports drinks can contribute to obesity and tooth decay—and most kids don’t actually need sports drinks (although the AAP concedes that young athletes who are exercise vigorously at length may benefit from them). Instead, the AAP recommends plain water for most kids during and after exercise, and the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk, not a sports drink, to accompany meals.

Posing far greater risks than sports drinks are energy drinks like Monster Energy and Red Bull, which contain stimulants like caffeine, guarana and taurine. The AAP says that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and recommends that all caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, be avoided. As many adults know from their own coffee habit, caffeine is addictive and its side effects from over-stimulation include increased blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety, as well as possible insomnia.

Do you let your kids consume drinks like Gatorade or Red Bull? If so, will this report change that?