Across the pond, concerns continue to grow over the health impact of energy drinks packed full of sugar and caffeine. So much so, the UK is moving to ban kids from buying them.
Here in the U.S., next to multi-vitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens. Roughly 1/3 of kids between 12 and 17 are drinking them regularly, according to the U.S. Department of Health.
But in light of the UK's recent move to ban them, I reached out to a pediatric doctor to find out if they are safe for American children.
"This is definitely a big issue, and one that is coming more and more to light, because kids are drinking these in increased and increased numbers,” Wellness Moms America's Dr. Theresa Warner says.
Dr. Warner says overall, energy drinks are risky for kids. "We know that they have high levels of two things that you don't want in your body: Caffeine and sugar.”
One can of RedBull contains about 80mg of caffeine, roughly the same size as a similarly-sized cup of coffee. But the real shocker: One can of RedBull contains three times the level of caffeine found in a Coca-Cola, according to Warner. "Most people say soda is bad, and I know my kids are not allowed to have soda. We don't drink it, for sure," she says.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, studies have shown that energy drinks can improve physical endurance, but Dr. Warner warns they can negatively affect children's performance in the classroom. "I know teachers that have seen hyperactivity in the classroom, reduced concentration levels; and we certainly don't want to see that happening,” Dr. Warner says.
And, although Dr. Warner says excessive consumption of energy drinks can lead to obesity, tooth decay, headaches, sleep issues, anxiety issues, ADHD, and more, she does NOT believe we should ban energy drinks in the U.S. "Personally, I don't like to see bans on things. I like people to be able to have freedom, and I feel strongly about that in America. However, there does need to be some common sense used when we are dispensing these items," she says.
Again, the USDH says although energy drinks can improve endurance, they warn of scientific evidence that shows energy drinks do have serious health effects, particularly in children and teens.