Sports drinks have always been popular with the young Little Leaguers and basketball-campers who have starry eyes for electrolytes-shilling athletes like Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan; now caffeinated energy drinks are entering the mix, prompting doctors to publicly frown upon both these types of beverages for kids regularly knocking them back.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that energy drinks, or any other drink with caffeine, should be off limits to children and teenagers, reports NPR's health blog, Shots.
Energy drinks -- like Red Bull, Hype and Monster -- contain high levels of caffeine and other stimulants that, in high doses and consumed over a long period of time, can harm a "young, growing body that's not fully mature," one pediatric sports medicine specialist told NPR. "It's almost like a stress to your body."
Kids may be consuming more of the stuff because they're confusing them with the more innocuous, athletically acceptable sports drinks -- but even drinks like Gatorade, Propel, and Vitamin Water -- cause another type of problem: With sugar as its main ingredient, drinking all those sports drinks simply to sip can contribute to obesity and tooth decay.
"Kids will drink a Gatorade after school," said the doctor. "They'll drink a Gatorade at lunch. They'll drink a Gatorade with dinner."
She did say there's a place for Gatorade and other sports drinks in a healthy kid's diet -- but only if they are getting a lot of exercise.