The 32-page letter also blasted the studies that suggest young consumers are targeted and are among the highest consumers of energy drinks.
“On the contrary, the fact that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents ‘consume’ energy drinks is vague … [a]nd does not specify whether ‘consume’ means drink an entire can, or merely taste or sample. In any case, government data show that consumption of energy drinks by younger consumers has not increased those consumers’ overall caffeine intake. Therefore, the amount of energy drinks consumed by younger people is not a cause for alarm.”
Halliday also pointed to the American Beverage Association’s contention that energy drinks are not targeted to children. “Energy drinks are not intended for children. The leading energy drink makers have voluntarily pledged not to market these products to children or sell them in K-12 schools. In addition, these companies voluntarily display an advisory statement on energy drink packaging, stating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women, and persons sensitive to caffeine.”
Lipshultz countered: “The industry says they don’t market to kids but it’s totally marketed to kids.” He noted names like Rock Star and Monster that appeal to a young demographic.
“People buy them because they have an effect on the body but none of the effects are therapeutic for kids,” he said, rebuking the drinks’ promises.
“‘Take this, you’ll be more awake,’ but we found medical studies suggesting that taking energy drinks all the time reduced the amount of REM sleep, so you get more tired. ‘Take this, it will help you lose weight.’ But with all the sugar, you get all these unneeded calories so you don’t lose weight.
“The issue is, for a lot of kids this may not necessarily be harmful, but, on the other hand, if you’re a child who has an unhealthy heart, even if you don’t know it, we don’t think it’s a good idea to take stimulants. A lot of people who get sick are not just the average but there are vulnerable populations,” Lipshultz said.
“It’s not like we take every child in school and do an ultrasound on their heart to see if their heart is normal or not.”
Myerly Kertis, a pediatric registered dietician for Holtz Children’s Hospital, says that parents need to read the labels for products they have around the house that can prove attractive to little fingers.
“I know a lot of times there’s sugar in there and sometimes added herbs or various things. As far as the clinical side, some of these herbs can harmfully interact with medications,” Kertis said. “Some are fine, but read the label and be knowledgeable about what you are putting into your body especially if you are on medications and taking things with herbs. Always check with a doctor.”
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