I just did an interview with CTV Calgary on the new regulations for energy drinks put out by the Canadian Health Minister. Much to a Mother’s and Dietitians dismay, the regulation changes do not include banning the sale of energy drinks to children or teens; nor do they restrict where energy drinks can be sold. Sigh…
The New Regulations- a step in the right direction?
What the government has decided to do is classify energy drinks as “foods” rather than “natural health products” or “drugs”. What that means, is that energy drinks must have food labels and ingredients lists, just like all other packaged food. There will be limits for amounts of vitamins and minerals aloud in each beverage and statements that indicate they are not recommended for children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
This is a step in the right direction I guess. It increases awareness as far as what exactly is in the energy drink and how much caffeine it contains, but is this really going to deter kids from drinking them? I doubt it.
What it may do, is increase awareness for parents who can somehow limit how many energy drinks their kids consume (when they’re at home that is). The new regulations also limit the amount of caffeine that goes into one energy drink- 180 mg maximum/drink.
Well, this is all good and great, but children ages 7-9 should be getting no more than 62mg of caffeine per day and kids ages 10-12 should be consuming no more than 85 mg of caffeine per day! So consuming just one energy drink per day means that these kids are getting more than double their upper limit (UL) of caffeine per day- this is scary. Not to mention all of the added sugar!
Why are energy drinks a no-no, especially for kids and teens:
Energy drinks have a lot of caffeine. Short-term, caffeine has the same effects on kids that it has on adults, only more severe because they are typically smaller. Kids become dehydrated, anxious, jittery, irritable, cannot concentrate as well and have trouble sleeping.
Long term, consuming caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks can lead to nutrient deficiencies- these drinks are replacing healthier, more hydrating beverages such as milk, water and 100% fruit juice. Kids can also become addicted to caffeine. Caffeine in large amounts can negatively impact proper growth and development. Not good!
Energy drinks are full of sugar. Considering the increase in overweight and obesity in children and teens in North America, and the increased incidence of Diabetes Type 2 in kids and teens, this isn’t a good thing.
On average, 75% of kids ages 5-12 are consuming caffeinated beverages daily. It’s no surprise considering the line up of junior high and high school kids at our local Starbucks at lunch time on most days! Throw an energy drink into their day, and they are now well over their quota for caffeine and likely sugar. As parents, we need to be aware of what our kids are drinking. We know now, that kids will continue to have access to energy drinks on store shelves. We need to educate our kids about the dangerous effects that these have and limit their consumption of caffeine-filled drinks when we can. Encourage your kids to stay hydrated with water, milk, chocolate milk, and 100% fruit juice.
Let me know what you think about the subject!
Thanks for reading!
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