February 14th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Pediatricians, parents warned on energy drink dangers

They claim to give you that extra boost, but recent studies have shown that energy drinks containing large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, can actually cause major health problems in children, teens and young adults. In fact, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, of the 5,448 U.S. caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, 46% occurred in those younger than 19 years. Now a new report in the journal of Pediatrics warns parents, and doctors that these drinks could be especially dangerous to children with ADHD, diabetes, sleep issues and eating disorders.

Tips for managing diabetes

Doctors from the University of Miami School of Medicine say that  although caffeine can improve attention spans, it also increases blood pressure and disrupts sleep patterns in young people. And scientists have found the attention span of kids who consumed these drinks on a daily basis eventually decreased. So did their heart rates over the long run, while their blood pressure numbers increased, which could put unnecessary pressure on the heart. Researchers note that could be dangerous for children who are on other medications

"Mixing other drugs with these drinks, could lead to a host of other complications." says Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a pediatric cardiologist and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. "The problem is, a lot of young people don't realize what's in these drinks and the combinations could be serious, even deadly."

These drinks should not be consumed after long periods of exercise, or mixed with alcohol, study authors added.

"A lot of young people, especially teens and young adults think they are drinking sports drinks," warned Lipshultz. "So they drink them after practice. But instead of replacing electrolytes in their bodies, they are adding large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can rev up the body and the heart even more. "

But the American Beverage Association, which represents the manufacturers of these drinks, says there's plenty of caffeine in lots of drinks that are available to a younger age group. "Young adults getting coffee from popular coffeehouses are getting about twice as much caffeine as they would from a similar size energy drink," the ABA said in a reaction statement to the Pediatrics paper.

But doctors warn that many people need to be made aware that these are not just cans of "quick energy," but beverages that contain not only caffeine, but stimulants such as guarana and taurine, that could affect different people in different ways.

What's inside energy drinks?

"Some kids can handle these substances, but others cannot," says Lipshultz. "Kids need to be careful of how much they drink."

Lipshultz and his co-authors stressed that pediatricians need to recognize symptoms and health problems associated with these drinks and should advise parents and young people of their dangers.

"The problem is, when kids come into a doctor's office with nausea, dizziness, racing hearts and even worse, seizures, pediatricians immediately think some form of drug abuse," says Lipshultz. "But in many cases, it could be energy drinks that are causing these problems. And doctors need to be on the lookout for that"

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Ames Wolff

    The best offense for parents is to educate their children about "false" energy for the body. Perhaps if parents set the example for their children to rely upon sleep, vitamins and exercise to establish an active metabolism then their children would have no interest in the false energy drinks.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jfen42

    If you are a parent and allow your child to drink any of these energy drinks, then you are very ill informed and/or just don't care about the welfare of your child. The drinks are not healthy for adults, let alone minors. A child should not need to consume an energy drink for a boost of energy. Children obtain all of their energy from a proper well balanced diet.It is ridiculous that CNN even has to publish an article concerning this topic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unfit parents out there.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. lubos

    Couldn't have said it any better jfen42. Another contributting factor is that these kids think its "cool" to drink these energy drinks. I went to high school with a lot of these "kids". They would put monster patches on their backpacks or stick the bottle caps to their backpacks, many of them even collected the cans. I never understood that. This whole thing is just screwed up.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sage Thrasher

      Well said. Every drug has paraphernalia as part of the culture of abuse surrounding it. Look at Mountain Dew, for instance. Marketing this stuff to kids is just evil, but no surprise there's an endless line of people willing to do it.

      p.s. Give out pencils & erasers next Halloween. Real change starts with ourselves.

      February 14, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  4. rak

    Darlings... be aware that altering your body by stimulates will have a negative impact on blood pressure. I see Parents trying to be hip and treating their children to think that their shiat dont stink.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Post college student

    I used to drink a sugar free red bull about once a day, every day, for most of the days of the year – 4 years straight. The "kick" that you get from red bull allows me to focus intensly for one hour. It's almost impossible to get that type of focus otherwise, especially during the grind in school or work. And for the record, I exercise and eat healthy. I have 102/60 blood pressure. I'm in my weight range. I have heard of all of the studies (red bull makes rats go crazy, therefore it is banned in some countries – in Europe I believe, etc) but simply stated, I have not seen any of the side effects despite my prolonged and – up to my entrance into the workforce a few years ago – consistent use of this product.

    FYI: the caffeine in one can of red bull is equal to less than 1 standard cup of coffee. So if you are upset over caffeine, then maybe you should ban coffee (although I drink ~3 cups of that now, so I hope that never happens!)

    February 14, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Darwin

    Let the little buggers do whatever they want – the gene pool will delf-correct over time.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Post college student

      Hey Darwin, hopefully the gene pool can "delf-correct" with you first, whatever that means...

      February 14, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
  7. Trentj

    Eating turkey makes people sleepy. Eating turkey at work makes a person unproductive. Therefore, it is not a good idea to at turkey at lunchtime of work.

    Red bull gives you wings. Drinking Red Bull all day everday makes you have wings when you don't need/want wings. Therefore, it is not a good idea to drink Red Bull when you don't want wings.

    Conclusion.....Red Bull and Turkey are not bad.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Katie

    It says to not drink energy drinks with alcohol...what about jager bombs???? I know alot of people who love them..

    February 14, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jerry

    You wouldn't think parents would need to be warned about the dangers of consuming those 'energy' drinks. Maybe parents should start being parents instead of trying to be their kid's best friend.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sage Thrasher

    Caffeine is just a small part of these products–taurine is a serious drug linked to increased aggression, among other mood changes. Give your kids a glass of tap water & a banana after exercise; they'll thank you for it down the road.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Partha

    Stupid drinks. As long as people want to try new crazy stuff products like this will be rolled out forever. They just want something new. Anything with Caffeine is NOT a sustainable energy drink. Go back to basics, people...tender coconut..best electrolyte ever !!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Really???

    All this whining.... You know, it is the WILL of the person to purchase products like this. Don't like it? Do something about it; educate yourself and your child that there are alternatives to energy drinks such as SLEEP. Take a multi vitamin in the morning to cover the vitamin benefits it may have and lessen the caffeine intake for your child. Don’t condemn companies trying to turn a dime. Blame the weakness of people that make them rich.

    Have you ever wondered the percentage of children that have poor eating habbits as a reflection of their own parents? Are you one of them? At least, if they drink an energy drink, they're taking in some kind of vitamin that they haven't been getting from their fatty diet.

    Everything leads to something negative, hell, we sit under fluorescent lights in an office environment that causes health problems, the Sun we revolve around can damage our skin and also cause skin cancer. The tap water we drink are chemically cleaned, the rain that falls from the sky is filthy. I could go on and on..

    February 14, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sagebrush Shorty

    The parents didn't know this already?

    February 14, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jeff

    Well..this is step 1 on how the FDA gets things banned. They put warnings out...next thing...it ends up being restricted to only adults...then it ends up getting banned all together.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. jen

    Any & everything can be potentially dangerous to anyone... i mean just get some sleep or something... & why anyone would think that these energy drinks are sports drinks... that seems a bit stupid... but what do i know... i dont drnk energy drinks they taste like medicine to me... but ill have a moutain dew or dr pepper haha tht better right? if parents are worried then they should start being the parent & just teach their kids what is good/bad & if they allow them then ok... but make sure your child is aware that they shouldnt drink 10 of them in a day!! im sick of hearing about how all these others should be watching out for kids.... its your child YOU WATCH & RAISE THEM!!! i know kids can be bad & do things without your knowledge etc... but when i wasa kid you better believe my mom knew everyting... she knew people & they would tell her in a heart beat if they saw us doing stuff we werent supposed to!!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. tard

    The very idea that parents have to be TOLD that drinks intentionally loaded with sugar, caffeine and other fake energy chemicals are bad for children is very sad. Of course they are, kids aren't 'little adults'.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. darlene rog

    Why arent they banded? a doctor told me teens drink them to pee out there medcation that they are taking.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. East Coast

    If you eat well and exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and keep your mind sharp, you shouldn't need artificial stimulants to get you through the day. When I see parents shoving soda bottles into their kids' hands and they're already dragging around a bag of cheese doodles, I just cringe. When your kids jump up and down when you get back from the fruit and veggie stand, then you know you're doing it right. C'mon people!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Laurie A

    Give me a break! Where is the EPA, or FDA or any other of the many government agencies we pay for to protect consumers???

    February 14, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. zero74

    I laugh when I see people drinking those at the gym or before a sport. Energy drinks are garbage in a can.

    February 14, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. John

    Taurine is not a stimulant. It is an amino acid that is a precursor to certain neurotransmitters. It is found naturally in eggs, and many meats. The Mayo Clinic says it is generally safe in moderation.

    February 14, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Inupaaq

    "Dereliction of Duty" by Congress and the Food & Drug Admin. :
    Caffeine is the SECOND-Most ADDICTIVE Drug – AFTER Nicotine !
    – STIMULANT : ELEVATES Blood Pressure – NOT Dangerous ENOUGH ?
    – DIURETIC – STIMULATES the Kidneys to Excrete Urine – ELECTROLYTES – Electrolytic IIMBALANCE !
    – Bonds with Body's Calcium AND
    – IS Excreted with Urine – PULLED Muscles !
    – HEALING (ALL Injuries REQUIRE Calcium FOR Healing !) IMPAIRED / REDUCED

    February 14, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Sharon McEachern

    From energy drinks and caffeine-alcohol drinks to cold medicine, chewing gum and even popcorn - manufacturers of food and drink products are putting caffeine in everything:


    And the latest is POPCORN:


    Adults have no idea just how much caffeine they ingest, how can we expect teenagers to figure it out? Hospital emergency rooms are getting more and more patients, who are younger and younger, who are overdosing on caffeine.

    February 14, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Bob

    Hey, Mcdonalds made me fat lets ban it.

    February 14, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Flour Sack Mama

    Why in the world are children being allowed access to any kind of soft drinks or sugary drinks at school? And who is giving them to their children? I admit that many busy adults get into the caffeine habit. But don't we care enough about protecting children from questionable drinks? Whatever happened to drinking water? It would do us all some good.

    February 14, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Monster


    February 14, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Monster

    Too much of anything is bad for you. So you did a lab study and found out that to much of a stimulant like caffeine leads to heart attacks. WOW our tax dollars at work. Give me a break. Get our troops back and stop wasting time with this petty crap We know energy drinks are bad! And the ADULTS who drink them on a daily basis are sick and tired of hearing people tell them that over and over... I know there has to be smokers on here who are against these drinks.. How much do you love hearing "you should quit smoking" and "smoking is bad for you"? how about this... I'll do me and you do you!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. stonemason89

    You are what you drink....

    February 15, 2011 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Van Full of Candy

    We at Van Full of Candy are on top of the latest attempt by idiots to get something we enjoy taken away from us because they lack even the most basic self control and can't be trusted not to try to kill themselves with what ever manages to fall into their stupid little hands.

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    February 15, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mi Nombre Aquí

    'My little darlings' ages 1 to 14 years aren't getting them at all ! When not in a classroom (those old enough to go to school) are either with me, my wife, one of their nanny's or any comination of these. Even if they weren't those of my children old enough to have been educated about the dangers of the ¢rap in these drinks, understand & respect this. I can assure you not one of them would even know, nor do they care to know what this ¢rap tastes like. You 'little darlings' might be sneeaking some, mine I can rest assured are NOT.

    February 18, 2011 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mi Nombre Aquí

    I wasn't assuming ALL parents are ALLOWING their children to drink this ¢rap. I certainly agree that not all parents have the good fortune of knowing exactly where their kids are and what they are doing 24/7 and obviously aren't 'allowing' it. I just know that *SOME* DO ALLOW IT without even attempting to warn or advise their children of the dangers. THESE are the people I am referring to. Don't 'assume' I meant EVERY parent who's kids get into these beverages are Stûpíd when I CLEARLY said 'the ones that ALLOW it' [unrestricted or unmonitored]

    February 18, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mi Nombre Aquí

    As for the $marta$$ 'perfect parents' comment where in my post did I profess my wife & I to be 'Perfect Parents'? I even stated we do allow them to consume Gatorade [in moderation- it is okay replenishes electrolytes etc]
    we also allow them to occasionally drink soda in moderation. Where in my post did I proclaim neither of us makes parenting mistakes? (ergo claim to be perfect?)

    If I had blogged that we would NEVER allow our minor children to play with loaded guns or ingest rat poision or consume lead paint chips, would you assume or accuse that I was professing us to be 'Perfect Parents'?

    Same difference these drinks are DANGEROUS & potentially DEADLY these ingredients cause SERIOUS health issues, even in what appears to be a 'healthy' adult least of all a growing child who could very well have an underlying yet undiagnosed heart condition and there are many that can & do go 'undetected' (even in those who get regular physicals) until something like one of these ¢rap loaded drinks triggers an adverse reaction (sadly all too often it is too late the damage has been done)

    Children in particular should NOT be drinking these beverages, anymore than they should be allowed to play with loaded guns.

    And yes my wife IS a highly respected M.D. and Professor of Medicine in two fields of Pediatric Specialty medicine. So her take and opinion on the issue and these products certainly holds merit. Can she give professional expert advice on manufacturing a Commercial Jet engine ? No but it's safe to say she certainly knows and can on Pedi-Medicine! Again for the sensitive & insecure bloggers out there : NOT claiming she's 'Perfect' or better than you, but THIS IS her field. Would you argue with a CPA for giving you free advice on your taxes and accuse them proclaiming to be an all over 'Perfect Person' because they did?

    February 18, 2011 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Ha ha

    @ post # 15 perfect parents
    Too bad jumping to conclusions and catty comments aren't Olympic events, you could be a double gold medalist. 😀

    February 21, 2011 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Yeesh

    Everything can kill you, especially if you're stupid about it.

    Most people who have problems with these drinks are the ones who drink multiple cans a day even though the labels expressly state that you should NEVER have more than one a day. It's like taking way more medication than you're supposed to then blaming the medicine.

    Obviously kids under 13 shouldn't be having these drinks and kids under 10 it's just ridiculous. They certainly aren't buying them themselves at 7, 8. Again, someone's stupidity not the drink itself.

    Yes, energy drinks are not water. I would think that it would be self evident that they probably aren't the best thing for anyone to drink but apparently people need to be warned about everything these days.

    March 7, 2011 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. River

    I just made two children pour their Red Bull and Rockstar drinks out. They bought them knowing their parents did not allow them to drink them and thought I was naive enough to let them drink it around me. They were a little disappointed, but understood when I told them that their choices were to pour them out or drink it and I tell their parents. A nice little $2 lesson learned for both of them! And I cannot believe the store sold it to them.

    March 20, 2012 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Kassandra Bullock

    An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs, chiefly caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental or physical stimulation. There are myriad brands and varieties of energy drinks. They generally contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants. Many also contain sugar or other sweeteners, herbal extracts and amino acids and may or may not be carbonated. They are a subset of the larger group of energy products, which includes bars and gels.^

    Head to our personal web site too

    March 4, 2013 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Alan Pannenbacker

    Up to 3,000 milligrams a day of supplemental taurine is considered safe. Any excess taurine is simply excreted by the kidneys. Moderation is important, however. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use. ..,^-

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