The American Journal of Pediatrics suggests energy drinks are potentially dangerous for children

The American Journal of Pediatrics suggests energy drinks are potentially dangerous for children

The American Beverage Association (ABA) has countered a report by the American Journal of Pediatrics that suggests energy drinks are potentially dangerous for children.

The report 'Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults' published yesterday (14 February), claimed that energy drinks have been reported to have "serious adverse effects", particularly in children, adolescents and young adults suffering from seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, or mood and behavioural disorders. The report noted that 30% to 50% of the drinks are consumed by adolescents and young adults.

Researchers said that, of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in the US in 2007, 46% occurred in those younger than 19 years old.

"Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and many ingredients are understudied and not regulated," the report says. "The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects in association with energy-drink use. In the short-term, pediatricians need to be aware of the possible effects of energy drinks in vulnerable populations and screen for consumption to educate families."

The ABA, however, countered that it believes the literature does nothing more than "perpetuate misinformation about energy drinks, their ingredients and the regulatory process".

"Like all foods, beverages and supplements sold in the US, energy drinks and their ingredients are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration," the ABA said. "When it comes to caffeine, it's important to put the facts in perspective. Most mainstream energy drinks actually contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee. In fact, young adults getting coffee from popular coffeehouses are getting about twice as much caffeine as they would from a similar size energy drink."

While a number of countries and states in the US have debated or restricted their sales and advertising of energy drinks, consumption still appears to be on the up.

Last month, Red Bull, producer of the world's best-selling energy drink, reported an increase in full-year sales. Meanwhile, last week, Coca-Cola Enterprises said that it ses the energy drinks sector as a "major growth opportunity" for the future.