Who’s Watching out for your Kids?

If you are a parent, or if you are a child, you should be aware that what you eat and drink can have a significant effect on your health. Are watching out for the health of your children?energy drinks

One study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 4854 calls to poison control centers regarding energy drinks. 51% of these calls were involving children. Another study shows the link between energy drinks and cardiac events among teens. This study recommends that teens consume no more than one 250 ml energy drink per day and not before or during sports or exercise. A 2016 study showed that 18-40-year-olds who drank energy drinks had a significant increase in their QTc interval, which is a marker of abnormal heart rhythm risk. Abstract.

But in the United States, where the consumption of energy drinks has been linked to multiple deaths, there remains little regulation of the products.

The drinks first hit the market as “dietary supplements” under the Food and Drug Administration, a classification that allowed makers to sell the products without revealing the ingredients — generally exceedingly high levels of caffeine and sugar, with additives like taurine, guarana, or ginseng.

Since entering the U.S. market in the late 1990s, they’ve exploded in America, yielding $25 billion in sales in 2016 alone. One of the fastest-growing beverage markets, experts now say the energy-drink segment is projected to reach $84.8 billion by 2025.

Red Bull, the first energy drink in the U.S., dominates the market, followed by Monster, and then smaller brands like Rockstar and Nos. With brightly colored ads and labels, the companies have been criticized for gearing their marketing to kids. Although the companies deny targeting youth, a 2014 study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that teenagers watched 30 percent more Red Bull and five-hour-energy ads than adults.

As the drinks began to take off in America, the negative health effects in the demographic guzzling them — namely, kids — began to skyrocket. As early as 2005, a toxicologist tracked 4,500 caffeine-related calls to poison control, half of them for people under the age of 19.

According to “The Caffeine Informer”, here are the Top 14 Dangers of Energy Drinks:

Cardiac Arrest
Headaches and Migraines
Insomnia
Drug Interaction
Addiction
Risky behavior
Jitters and Nervousness
Vomiting
Allergic Reactions
High Blood Pressure
Niacin Overdose
Stress Hormone Release

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a clinical report warning pediatricians that energy drinks were “never appropriate” for kids, pointing to “harmful effects” on the “developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems” in children and adolescents who consume high levels of caffeine.

In 2013, it looked as though the days of unregulated energy drink use among kids might be numbered. In “The Use of Caffeine in Energy Drinks,” 18 doctors, researchers, and public health experts from across the United States called on then-FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to put pressure on Red Bull, Monster, and others to label their products and require that they provide evidence that the drinks are safe for kids.

Instead, as reported by the New York Times that year, the companies simply changed the classification of their products from dietary products to beverages. The change included a concession by energy-drink makers — in that beverages must include the caffeine count — but offered a bigger reward for them: Because their products were now considered drinks, they would not have to disclose potential injury or death related to their consumption.

The following year, the World Health Organization released a study stating that “increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people.” The authors suggested that countries regulate the levels of caffeine in the drinks, as well as create rules against young people buying them. “There is a proven potential negative effect on children [and] there is the potential for a significant public health problem in the future,” the authors concluded.

Since then, despite increasingly troubling reports, little has been done to curb the use of them in this demographic. Today, kids of all ages have free rein to consume drinks with sky-high levels of caffeine, with just one having the equivalent of 15 sodas. The effects, in some cases, still prove deadly. Education is vital towards protecting the health of your children and you!

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