The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has taken a firm stand against energy drinks for children stating that the high amounts of caffeine could actually be harmful to their bodies.
A new report from the AAP finds that many teenagers are confused about the best ways to re-hydrate and are turning to high-caffeine energy drinks instead of water and sports drinks. When athletes sweat, they need real rehydration by replenishing water and electrolytes lost during intense games or work-outs.
Pediatricians said that the high levels of caffeine and other stimulants found in energy drinks can be addictive and may lead to increased heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety.
"We don't really know what caffeine does in large quantities," said doctor Holly Benjamin of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. "We don't know what it does over a period of time to a young developing body."
Experts said that sports drinks should be used only in very rare instances and only by high-level athletes who are exercising for more than an hour. For the vast majority of children, sports drinks simply translate into unnecessary calories and sugar which can contribute to obesity and tooth decay.
"They have a low pH and that means basically that they are more acidic than what we'd normally be drinking," said Benjamin.
The American Beverage Association agreed with the new report, saying that while sports drinks have their place on the playing field, energy drinks are not meant for child consumers.
While it may not be as splashy or colorful, experts say the best and healthiest way to rehydrate is water.
The AAP is encouraging all pediatricians to talk to their young patients about sports and energy drink consumption. They also go on to urge parents to be aware of what their children are drinking.