Parents should use water, not sports and energy drinks, to rehydrate their thirsty children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy is coming out against the routine use of sports drinks and is encouraging a complete ban on energy drinks for children and teenagers.
“Sports drinks are beverages designed to quickly replenish fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes like sodium and potassium after vigorous and prolonged exercise,” said Connie Crawley, a nutrition specialist with UGA’s Cooperative Extension. “In contrast, energy drinks contain stimulants like caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, L-carnitine, creatinine and/or glucoronolactone that are supposed to enhance performance.”
Soft drinks already have been removed from many school vending machines and replaced with sports and energy drinks, she said. The AAP believes young athletes can replenish their nutritional needs just through a healthy diet, not with these drinks.
“There is basically no need for added protein, carbohydrate, sodium and potassium if the child or teenager is eating regular, well-balanced meals throughout the day,” she said.
A sports drink may be helpful following an intense workout, Crawley said, but it should not be a routine beverage served with a meal.
The stimulants in energy drinks can cause sleeplessness, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, fluid loss, anxiety and heart arrhythmias. Children and teens can also become dependent on these substances, said Crawley.