Energy Drinks – where do we stand?

We read a worrying statistic recently that stated 1 in 20 children have an energy drink before, or as, breakfast every day. As activists in trying to ensure that the future generations lead a healthy and active lifestyle we found this disturbing.

Part of a healthy lifestyle is having healthy diet. On our Academies and camps we help children to realise what they should put into their bodies and what they should avoid. We love food and drink but we want it to be the right energy they consume. The importance of this extends to what we as parents give our children and allow them to eat at home.

One can of energy drink, such as Red Bull, Monster and Relentless contains as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar and 160mg of caffeine. This is the same as having four cans of Coca-Cola. We also found out that one single can of Red Bull would give a marathon runner like Paula Radcliffe enough energy to complete a 26.1mile course. Do children drink these and then go for such a bout of exercise? We think not! So what happens to all the stored energy that they then need to be released? It either causes them to react or gets stored as sugars and ultimately fat in their bodies. Not what they are designed to do!

Teachers in schools have become so aware of the impact on children drinking such drinks that there are some schools in Manchester and Birmingham which have banned them from school completely. We applaud such schools but they are a minority. Whilst retailers and manufacturers can voluntarily refuse to sell them to under 16 year olds, there is no law to stop them buying them.

Are these drinks doing as much harm as smoking or alcohol for which we have laws? Not only do the drinks have a damaging effect to children’s concentration and ability to perform at school but they have adverse health effects too.

We encourage all children to bring a re-fillable water bottle to our Academies and camps. That way they can replenish and fuel their body with drinks which their body needs. We understand the need to remain hydrated and nothing does this as well as water! Even drinks such as Lucozade contain caffeine and sugars which children do not need. Clever marketing by the companies manage to brainwash us all into thinking that it is better than water and they do this by saying that it ‘hydrates and fuels your body better than water’. Do you need the fuel as sugar though or are there better ways to fuel your body too?

Next time we pick up a drink for the gym, or arm our children with snacks and drink for activities, let’s think twice about what they really need in their bodies. Are energy drinks really any different to other banned drugs?