|What is your youth athlete drinking to get through games and practices?|
It’s amazing what doctors can do when they join ranks. In June, the American Medical Association (AMA), a group representing doctors in the U.S., called for a ban on energy drink marketing to youth.
This is on the heels of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2011 clinical report stating that energy drinks for young children and teens (including athletes) are not appropriate.
What’s the harm in that Red Bull? Mostly caffeine. Energy drinks are loaded with the stuff and have been linked to emergency room visits for heart palpitations, and even death in teens.
Energy drinks contain stimulants including caffeine, guarana, yerba mate (herbal stimulant), and taurine (an amino acid), all of which can increase heart rate and perhaps even damage the heart over time. Ginseng, when present, enhances the effects of caffeine.
An average energy drink contains between 70-200 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounces. Some energy drinks can contain up to 500 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda!
Alexander Ding, a board member of the AMA said, “Banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids.”
The American Beverage Association (ABA) stated that it was “disappointed,” and that energy drink companies “voluntarily display the amount of caffeine” prominently on the package.
But who’s to say that kids actually look at the caffeine content on the package, or even understand it? Kids and teens are more prone to choose what is popular or what their friend is eating and drinking over considering ingredients or health qualities.
As for the AMA, I say “good for them!” for taking a stand against marketing a product like energy drinks to children, which are dangerous and potentially harmful. While food marketing to children has been shown to be an effective way to increase consumption, change food preferences, and get children to beg their parents to purchase products, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
If energy drink companies won’t take a step away from marketing to children and teens, then maybe these beverages should be controlled substances like alcohol and cigarettes. What do you think?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc
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West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
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