Why you should rethink what your son drinks

Young athletic man drinking energy drink after his excercising at gym

A teenager clutching a takeaway latte on his way to school. A young athlete chugging a sports drink during training. A sleep-deprived kid sipping energy drinks to get through his exams.

As long as it’s all in moderation, there’s no harm? Right?


Let’s start with coffee. It’s been linked to insomnia, tooth decay, hyperactivity and even bone density problems. And it’s not just our boys’ bodies that are feeling the effects; a Food Standards Australia and New Zealand study found increased levels of anxiety in children if they’re drinking two or more caffeinated drinks per day.

Sports drinks should be fine though shouldn’t they? After all, they’re designed to enhance healthy pursuits… Actually, the experts at The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) say no, recommending plain water for most children engaging in routine physical activity.

“Energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents”.

American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP)

And when you find out that one 600ml bottle of so-called ‘sports drinks’ can contain more than 11 teaspoons of sugar, you can see why. We’re back to tooth decay, insomnia and hyperactivity, this time with a possible side order of obesity.

The APP is even clearer on energy drinks, stating they are: “never appropriate for children or adolescents”.

The key ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine – often in higher doses than your average cappuccino. According to a report by The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), energy drinks can cause tremors, anxiety, hypertension, headaches, nausea and insomnia. The MJA report notes that caffeine overdose can also potentially lead to seizures, psychosis, and in extreme circumstances, death.

In a nutshell, long-term overuse of stimulant drinks can take its toll. By being informed, we can have conversations with our kids that enable them to make smart choices about what they put into their bodies.

And the smartest choice? Turn on the tap.

Energy drinks: health risks and toxicity – The Medical Journal of Australia; 2012

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