Safety concerns regarding energy drinks prompt warnings and guideline recommendations from exercise science experts

While adults rely on energy drinks to keep them going for school or work all-nighters, it might be wise to forbid your kids to drink them, at least until they’re much older.

Last month, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released an official statement regarding energy drinks which was published in the college’s clinical review journal, Current Sports Medicine Reports.

The statement, titled: Energy Drinks: A Contemporary Issues Paper, includes “helpful guidance and warnings regarding these beverages because of the dangers they present to at-risk populations.”

These include children who can suffer from health conditions if they over-indulge in energy drinks. The irony is younger consumers are often the target of marketing efforts for these products.

Dr. John Higgins explains that energy drinks are very popular and their consumers belong to every sector of society, which is one reason why they released the recommendations. He adds that their review of the data concerning these products has revealed “excessive levels of caffeine” which can negatively affect the “cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal, and endocrine systems.” Energy drinks can also cause psychiatric symptoms.

Higgins expressed the need to take more measures to ensure the safety of children and adolescents, along with adults who have cardiovascular or other medical conditions.

Since energy drinks are highly caffeinated beverages, their ingredients usually include different “vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbal mixtures.” The goal of ACSM, the “global authority for sports medicine, exercise science, and the promotion of participant safety,” is to concentrate on promoting high performance, while also ensuring the safety of those who participate in athletics or in other forms of physical activity.

With the publication of these new recommendations, ACSM hopes to aid consumers so they can understand the risks linked to “rapid and excessive consumption” of energy drinks. (Related: Energy drinks: Are they safe for you and your kids?)

Higgins concludes that as long as energy drinks are consumed in moderation, they can offer “short-term, performance-enhancing effects.” But consumers need to learn about the “many potential adverse reactions that could have long-term effects” on their health. He believes that consumers, parents, physicians, athletic trainers, personal trainers, and coaches can all benefit from their recommendations.

ACSM’s energy drink recommendations

ACSM’s primary recommendations revolve around four important sections:

  1. Protecting children at risk – Children and adolescents are at “particularly high risk of complications from energy drinks” because of their small body size, minimal exposure to caffeine, and “potentially heavy and frequent consumption patterns, as well as the amounts of caffeine.” Something must be done to reiterate the message that energy drinks can be bad for the health of younger consumers.
  2. Cease marketing to at-risk groups (e.g. children and adolescents) – Manufacturers must refrain from targeting at-risk consumers, like children or adolescents. Advertising on “websites, social media, and television channels” often caters to young consumers while target marketing to sporting and other events for these age groups must not be allowed.
  3. Avoid consuming energy drinks before, during, or after strenuous exercise – Even athletic individuals must refrain from consuming energy drinks before, during, or after arduous activities, especially until “proper safety and efficacy data are available.” This can also prevent casualties since some reported deaths due to energy drinks involve the consumption of the products before and/or after strenuous exercise.
  4. More education and research needed – Action must be taken to spearhead “awareness and educational resources highlighting the potential adverse effects and safe use of energy drinks.” Consumers must also learn the difference between products such as soda, coffee, sports drinks, and energy drinks, which all contain caffeine. School-based curricula regarding nutrition, health, and wellness must prioritize energy drink education so consumers can stay informed.

Natural alternatives to energy drinks

If you want to give your kids an energy boost without offering them potentially harmful energy drinks, serve them these natural energy-boosting alternatives instead:

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – Serve your kids some ACV mixed with raw honey and water for a refreshing drink. ACV contains amino acids, which can counteract an excess of lactic acid in the system caused by exercise. Lactic acid can cause fatigue, and the ACV will provide your kids with a much-needed energy boost.
  • Coconut water – Your kids can stay hydrated with some coconut water, which you can give them when they’re playing sports or taking part in school activities. It also contains natural sugars that will boost their energy.
  • Fruit smoothies – Healthy fruit smoothies are also perfect for sports events. The natural sugar from the fruit will boost their energy levels, and the fiber ensures that the energy boost will last longer since the sugar will slowly be released into the bloodstream.

You can read more articles about other toxic products and how to avoid them at

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