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Energy Drinks and Kids Don't Mix

September 10, 2013 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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There's a new wave of 'organic,' 'all natural' and 'chemical-free' energy drinks hitting the shelves.

These new drinks arrive on the heels of the US Food and Drug Administration investigation into deaths suggested to be linked to energy drinks and reports of adverse reactions received by Health Canada. The question is, are these new 'natural' energy drinks safe for children and teens?It's probably time to revisit the facts. 

  • Energy drinks are beverages that contain caffeine and other added ingredients such as herbs, amino acids and vitamins. The 'energy' that energy drink labels claim to provide usually comes from added caffeine that gives a stimulating effect. Most energy drinks contain sugar and are considered sugary drinks in B.C.
  • Energy drinks are not recommended for children or teens. This is due to their caffeine content and other active ingredients they may contain. The amount of caffeine varies in each product but a single drink can exceed the safe level.
    • For example: The recommended daily maximum caffeine intake for children under 12 is 2.5 mg per kg of body weight. This translates into an average of 45 to 85 mg for children aged 4 to12. The maximum dose for a 60 kg teen would be 150 mg. A single serve container can have anywhere from 50 to 180 mg of caffeine.
  • Mixing energy drinks with alcohol is not recommended as it's not clear what the health effects may be.
  • Nutrition labelling on energy drinks in Canada has been changed to help people make more informed choices. Labels now need to list how much caffeine is in a single serving. They must also include warning statements such as "high caffeine content" (or a similar statement), "not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women or individuals sensitive to caffeine" and "do not mix with alcohol." These will be required on all energy drink labels by December 2013.
  • Energy drinks, ('all natural' or not) are not allowed for sale in B.C. schools or public buildings. Health Canada does not allow marketing of these products to children. 

The bottom line: energy drinks are not recommended for children or teens.

Even without energy drinks, kids can drink too much caffeine. Maybe now is a good time to check in and see how much caffeine they are drinking.

Recommended Resources:

Information for parents on caffeine in energy drinks
Caffeine and kids
Energy drinks video

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