ENERGY DRINKS – A DANGEROUS MIX FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.
Exposure to energy drinks is an on-going health problem.
The potential dangers of energy drinks, the caffeine-rich beverages which promise a super-human boost, are very well-known. However, recent studies have shown that even young children are now at risk.
Although the target market for energy drinks is usually teenagers and adults, the US poison control reported that over a measured time period, about 40% of emergency calls received concerned children under the age of 7. A few of the more serious cases involved seizures and abnormal heart rhythms. Of course, most of these children had no idea what they were drinking.
How do these young kids get hold of the energy drinks they consume?
Many people, including parents, are unaware of the potential for energy drinks to have serious side effects. A child cannot go into a store and purchase an energy drink. They are usually easily accessible in the home refrigerator where the drinks are kept by parents or older siblings who do not recognise the dangers posed.
Any child will be attracted by the attractive packaging and coloring of the drinks and if accessible, happily consume it. Many parents will be blissfully ignorant that this has taken place, until some unpleasant side effects occur.y
Underlying health issues.
Children with less obvious conditions such as borderline diabetes or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, will suffer a much greater negative impact from caffeinated energy drinks than that of healthy children.
Some energy drinks have up to 400mg caffeine per serving, compared to the average cup of coffee which contains about 100 to 150mg. It has been noted that caffeine poisoning can occur at a level of 400mg and up, for adults.
For a child this could have a potential deadly effect.
Is something being done to promote awareness of dangers posed to young children?
The American Beverage Association has stated that caffeinated energy drinks are not intended for consumption by the very young. In fact, leading energy drink makers voluntarily place statements on their packaging and labelling to the effect that the products are not intended for children. Although this does help, it is generally felt by concerned health professionals that more needs to be done to create awareness.
What can YOU do to help your kids?
Research has shown that children who lead an active lifestyle, exercise regularly and have a healthy, nutritious diet have absolutely no need of energy drinks. Parents, teachers and coaches need to focus on the use of water to replenish fluids after sports or exercise. Nutritious drinks such as fruit juice or low-fat milk should be encouraged at mealtimes or at group outings.
If you are a parent who consumes energy drinks, make certain that they are not stored any place where the drinks will be accessible to your kids. If they are too young to go into a store to buy the drinks, the only access will be through you if you are careless.
Continue to promote a healthy and nutritious lifestyle for your family, and lobby to reduce the marketing and availability of energy drinks to children.