Energy drinks like Monster, Red Bull and Rock Star can be purchased by a person of any age. But does that make them safe for kids? If you asked the parents of Anais Fournier, they would say absolutely not. Anais drank two cans of Monster and suffered cardiac arrest. Six days later, she was dead. The cause, according to doctors, was cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. Anais did have a heart condition, but one that her doctor felt, “posed little risk.” (Today.com staff, 2012) Dan, a former student of mine, developed bleeding ulcers after drinking an average of two energy drinks a day. His doctors assured him his stomach problems were due to the energy drink habit. Anais’ and Dan’s stories should cause parents to ask, are energy drinks safe?
Obviously not all teens are going to experience severe side effects. But what parents may need to think about are the smaller, less noticeable effects energy drinks have on teens. As a secondary teacher in the Boise School District, I knew many students who drank energy drinks on a daily basis. These students were more awake, but they also had a difficult time focusing and staying on task. If a student was coming down from the high of an energy drink, they couldn’t focus and wanted to sleep. Either way these teens couldn’t perform at their academic best due to energy drink consumption.
Coaches at my school and across the country have also banned energy drinks for athletes in training. They noticed that players were vomiting during practice, were much more susceptible to dehydration and experienced dangerously elevated heart rates during physical activity. Players admitted that although they liked the initial feeling the energy drink gave them, it didn’t help their performance.
Energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA because they are considered supplements, but the research is out there. Parents and teens owe it to their health to make an informed decision about energy drinks. There is a wealth of information on respected sites like http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20080924/energy-drinks-hazardous-to-your-health and http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/energy-drinks/AN01303. Do the research and make an informed decision about whether or not these well advertised, non-regulated energy drinks are safe for your teen.
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Today.com staff. (March 21, 2012). Teen dies of ‘caffeine toxicity’ after downing 2 energy drinks. Today.com. Retrieved from http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/21/10780958-teen-gi…