February 9, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
We’ve all seen the sport drink ads which are heavily marketed to kids and teens. Athletes doing heroic feats on the basketball court or football field. Modern day gladiators. Grunting, grimacing, afterwards, they seem to be sweating bullets of neon green. “Give your body what it thirsts for,” or “Just Do it” or “The Warrior in you demands only the best,” these ads implore us. Our heroes hear and heed the call of the sports drink marketer. They reach for a bottle. Then, a close-up as our hero guzzles down some sport drink heavily laced with caffeine and electrolytes the rest of us probably couldn’t use up in a lifetime.
The message is clear and emphatic as a LeBron dunk. Drink what we drink and you can be us someday. What young superstar in the making wouldn’t want a big gulp of that dream?
It’s just that the truth seems to be nowhere near these slickly made and disingenuous ads. In fact, medical science tell us that kids, teens and actually many athletes have no need for such drinks. At best their unnecessary. At worse, even dangerous.
Now, new research indicates it’s the worse we need worry about. That heavily caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star drinks may actually be serving as a gateway for kids and teens to engage in dangerous habits such as drug, tobacco and alcohol use.
Let’s first tackle why many sports drinks are about the last thing that young athletes should be or need to be drinking. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians the nutritional goal of the overwhelming percentage of kids, teens and even adults after engaging in sporting activities should be to simply and naturally rehydrate their body. However, most sport drinks on the market today are not simple or natural. Many now have a slew of chemicals and contain between 500mg to 750mg of caffeine. So, by guzzling even one of these Sport or NRG drinks that promise to “re-fuel” the “athlete-warrior,” we are actually ingesting the equivalent of 14 cups of coffee in one gulp, according to Dr. Schneider, MD and Member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.
What can habitually drinking the equivalent of 14 cups of coffee do to kids and teens? Obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and addiction seem to be the tip of the unhealthy iceberg for all our sports superstar wannabes hoping that one day they too, will be dripping in bullets of neon-green colored sweat.
One more strong caution when it comes to doing shooters of energy and sport drinks from the AAP-Don’t consume these as a beverage at mealtime. As bad as they are for you as a hydrating drink after working out they are even worse without any prior activity, like at mealtime. Unfortunately, the trend is many kids and teens are using sport and energy drinks as mealtime substitutes. And marketers are responding to this pernicious and profitable trend by showing new ads touting Red Bull, Monster and Quik Shots as great drinks with your burger and fries.
Not sure why but can you feed me my cheeseburger, my hand seems to be shaking uncontrollably.
While you digest that nugget, here’s another to chew on. A study published this week in the Journal of Addiction (January/February 2014) examined the drinking and activity habits of 22,000 boys and girls between grades 8-12.
The study found that:
Boys are more likely than girls to ingest drinks like Red Bull and Monster
That these type of drinks are enjoying increased popularity in part due to their ability to temporarily mask the effects of alcohol use and abuse
That there is a strong link between habitual use of heavily caffeinated drinks and drug, tobacco and alcohol use
That the most likely age group to use and abuse sport and energy drinks laced with caffeine are 8th graders (ages 14-15)
So, are drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Quik Shot and others the new Gateway drug? Do these drinks lead to drug and other substance abuse in our kids and teens?
Well, the evidence seems to link these drinks to certain high-risk, extreme personality types who seek a certain adrenaline rush that apparently, these drinks provide. At least, temporarily. Until, it seems they get the twitch to seek out ever more extreme and dangerous “highs.”
On the other hand, the evidence seems crystal clear that when the overwhelming majority of us work out or play sports, even when we play to the “max,” we shouldn’t be reaching for a highly caffeinated, electrolyte-infused drink.
Nope. A quick shot or two of natural water. H2O. What the body really needs.
But then you already knew that didn’t you? Maybe now it’s time to alert your kids. Might be best to text them. I hear that gets their attention these days.
For more information, you may want to check out:
Journal of Addiction (January/February) 2014 Online Edition