Updated: Aug 20, 2019
With power names like Bang, Surge, Monster and sweet flavors: Bangster Berry, Power Punch, and Assault it's no wonder kids are drawn to them.
Like nearly every supplement product on the market, however, there is little research about the effects on teens: neither the impact on their health now or in the future.
We do know that between 2007 and 2011 energy drink emergency room visits more than doubled- to over 20,000. And, it's estimated that today over 1/3 of kids ages 12-17 regularly consume energy drinks.
Why are they so problematic?
A few reasons...
The ingredients. Most (especially "sugar free" options) are laden with synthetic sugars, artificial flavors, and preservatives that are detrimental to growth and performance.Caffeine amounts are misleading. While manufacturers are not required to list caffeine amounts, when they do the numbers are skewed. Most brands also contain herbal ingredients (some on NCAA banned lists) that have caffeine effects. Even worse, some products, like Bang Energy, contain 300mg. of caffeine (more than 3 cups of coffee) per serving.Sleep quality. Caffeine interrupts quality sleep patterns- an essential time for the body to grow and repair.They're a physiological recipe for disaster, especially for athletes...
Exercise = increased heart rate
Dehydration = increased heart rate
Caffeine = increased heart rate
Caffeine naturally dehydrates = increased heart rate
Sensing a pattern?
Even without adding unknown heart conditions or prescription medications into the mix, it's easy to see the cyclical strain on the heart and stress to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Although athletes may be looking for an endurance boost, they're more apt to find over-caffeinated adverse effects: insomnia, irritability, reduced hand/eye coordination, nervousness, headaches, reduced focus, and increased risk for seizures and arrhythmia.
Unfortunately, the small print on the back of the cans indicating "Not recommended for use by children under 18 years of age" is often overshadowed by the flashy marketing on the front.
Utilizing proper fueling and hydration not only elevates energy, it eliminates the risk of dangerous side effects and eligibility concerns.