Are Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks Appropriate for Kids?

Kids soccer team drinking waterWhile sports drinks and energy drinks are two completely different beverages, many parents may not know what the differences are between the two.

Sports drinks are flavored, sweetened beverages designed to restore energy and fluids, and they contain electrolytes, minerals, and carbohydrates. These drinks have extra calories that could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. While there are certain child athletes who may benefit from consuming sports drinks due to participation in regular, vigorous activity (Rodriguez et. al., 2009), on average, children do not participate in the amount of physical activity that would warrant consumption of beverages that contain electrolytes (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011).

Energy drinks contain stimulants, like excess amounts of caffeine and sugar, guarana, and taurine, that are not found in sports drinks. These stimulants can potentially cause  harm in children’s bodies and can affect the development of neurologic and cardiovascular systems, increase anxiety, contribute to sleep disturbances, and increase heart rate and blood pressure (Seifert et. al., 2011). Some energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which equates to the amount of caffeine in 14 cans of soda (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). Additionally, one energy drink can contain anywhere from 7 tsp to 21 tsp of added sugars. The American Heart Association states that children between the ages of 2 and 18 shouldn’t consume more than 6 tsp of added sugars in 1 day (American Heart Association, 2016).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:

  • Pediatricians should highlight the differences between sports drinks and energy drinks with patients and their parents and talk about the potential health risks.
  • Energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain and should never be consumed by children or adolescents.
  • Routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity and can cause dental erosion.
  • Sports drinks have a limited function for pediatric athletes; they should be ingested when there is a need for rapid replenishment of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes in combination with water during prolonged, vigorous physical activity.
  • Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. (2011). Clinical report-sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents: Are they appropriate? Pediatrics, 127, 1182. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0965

American Heart Association. (13 September, 2016). Sugar and our children. [Blog]. Retrieved March 2019 from

Rodriguez, N. R., DiMarco, N. M., Langley, S., American Dietic Association, Dietitians of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine, & Nutrition and Athletic Performance. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(3), 509-527.

Seifert, S.M., Schaechter, J.L., Hershorin, E.R., & Litshultz, S.E. (2011). Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Pediatrics, 127(3), 511. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-3592

Effects of Social Media Use on Teenagers

Teenagers on media devicesThe adolescent stage of development can be defined by change or transformation. As early as age 11, parents may start to notice physical, developmental, emotional, and social changes in their pre-teen. Emotional ups and downs, a push for independence, new friend groups, and academic pressures are common experiences among adolescents. In today’s technological world, an adolescents’ perpetual  access to social media impacts their lives in positive and negative ways, and research is proceeding to determine how youth are being impacted.

In the world of research, studying the effects of social media use on adolescents is relatively new.  Brain development, mental health concerns, social issues, and other factors are areas of interest for future research.

One possible benefit of social media is connecting people to each other. For young people, friends and feeling they fit in with others of a similar age and interests are high priorities, and social media allows people to connect any time anywhere. Teens who may struggle in face-to-face situations and interactions, or who are from a marginalized group, may find comfort in communicating through social media outlets. Adolescents can enjoy sharing a common hobby or special ability with a specialized social media group.

Research also shows concerning effects of social media use on young people. The amount of time adolescents spend on social media is something parents should monitor. The act of sitting and scrolling through media can significantly impact the amount of physical activity or face-to-face conversation in which a teen engages. In addition, the content young people are viewing on social media (e.g., violence, cyberbullying) and how it is internalized (e.g., treatment of others, self-worth) can be troublesome.

There are times in face-to-face interactions when adolescents often find it difficult to manage rejection or negative interactions. This same phenomenon happens with social media and can create distress for young people. Youth may experience negative interactions on social media, for example a post may not be “liked” enough, there may be a lapse in response times, or they may be involved in sexting or cyberbullying. These negative interactions can impact adolescent mental health. Loss of sleep, feelings of hopelessness, negative thoughts, and friendship challenges are some of the negative outcomes associated with youth social media use.

Parents and caregivers are role models for social media use and are in a position to set rules and guidelines to help support young people as they navigate the world of social media. Review the resources below for more information and guidance about how to have conversations with your teens about social media use. Start the conversation today; it’s an important one!

Resources for parents:

School-based Obesity Intervention Recommended by Community Preventative Services Task Force (CPSTF)

The Community Preventative Services Task Force (CPSTF) was established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 1996 to develop guidance on which community-based health promotion and disease prevention intervention approaches have the most effectiveness based on available scientific evidence (The Community Guide, 2019). The findings of the CPSTF are listed within The Community Guide.

Based on a review of 21 systematic studies conducted between January 1990 – June 2017, the CPSTF is recommending school-based intervention approaches that combine meal or fruit and vegetable snack interventions with physical activity interventions. The review shows that combined interventions increase physical activity, modestly increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and decrease the prevalence of overweight and obesity among elementary school students up to and including sixth grade (Community Preventative Services Task Force, 2018).

Click here to read about the systematic review and findings:



The Community Guide. (2019, March, 12). Retrieved from

Community Preventative Services Task Force. (2018, April). Obesity Prevention and Control: Meal or Fruit and Vegetable Snack Interventions Combined With Physical Activity Interventions in Schools. Retrieved from