Tag Archives: energy drinks

Sports and Energy Drinks (Article)

Whether they play formal sports or just run around the school yard at recess, most children are active enough to need fluid replacement. Till recently, children drank water to rehydrate; in today’s world, however, active children commonly consume sports and energy drinks to rehydrate. These drinks were designed for athletes who endure extremes in physical and environmental stress, not for children playing little league baseball or a Saturday morning soccer game.  Unfortunately children are consuming too many of these sports and energy drinks, and they are not drinking enough water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) together with the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (COSMF) completed a major review of sports and energy drinks literature from 2000 to 2009. This review sought to differentiate sports drinks from energy drinks, identify common ingredients, and discuss harmful effects of these drinks. This report identified that “sports drinks” contain carbohydrates (sugars), minerals, artificial flavors and colors to replace lost water during exercise;  “energy drinks” contain all the above plus stimulants such as caffeine and taurine for performance enhancement.

Do we really want our little ones drinking sports and energy drinks when all they need is water? Well-balanced diets containing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins can more than adequately replace nutrients lost during active play. Overconsumption of sports and energy drinks can cause serious problems, such as obesity, for growing children.   In addition, consuming caffeine or other stimulants can increase a child’s heart rate, disturb his or her sleep, create a physical dependence, and trigger withdrawal headaches. In 2005, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 2600 calls related to caffeine abuse in patients younger than 19 years. Remember, the majority of the energy drinks available to young athletes contain some form of caffeine in abundance.

As children grow up, parents should encourage children to drink plenty of water.  Water truly is the perfect “sports drink” since the body is made of it and can’t run without it. Professional athletes may benefit from the consumption of sports drinks, but child athletes will best benefit from drinking water on and off the the playing field.  Let them enjoy the sweet taste of victory instead of an artificially flavored and colored bottle of salty sugar water!


I welcome your comments at my blog, www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.


Written collaboratively by Norman Spencer and Paul Smolen M.D.

Smo Notes:



More…on Sugary Drinks (Pedcast)

Welcome to studio 1E in Charlotte, NC. I am your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen. For those of you who are new to Dosmo.com, I am the creator and curator of this podcast, which was created for parents to have a practical, portable source of pediatric information to help them in their parenting journey. From the crib to the country club, we talk about everything imaginable here. I try to give my audience what’s new in pediatrics in my weekly articles, and I try to impart more traditional pediatric information and advice in my pedcasts…what is a pedcast, you ask? That’s a podcast with pediatric content. Today I am going to talk about sugary drinks, one of the big health problems our children face today. I was reading the WSJ of all things the other day and came across an article about soda sales in the US, which is the genesis of my comments today. So, sit back and let’s talk kids and sugar, shall we?

First for the good news: “Soda sales are down!!” On average, people are buying fewer bottles of soda this year than they did last year. The average soda consumption, not including soda purchased from fountains and restaurants, was only 45 gallons per person last year. That’s down from 55 gallons just a few years earlier. Pretty bad when good news is that your child only drinks 45 gallons of sugar water per year. That’s like the CEO telling the shareholders they only lost 2 billion dollars instead of the 3 billion they lost last year, or a child telling his parents he only failed 2 classes this year instead of 3 like last year. Bad news is bad news.

You probably don’t need to think too hard to think of someone you know who drinks two or three sweet drinks a day. Think of all the sugar that is put in a soda, energy drink, sweet tea, or sugary coffee drink. If a child or an adult consumes these beverages, their bodies are being bombarded with sugar. This person’s pancreas and fat cells are presented with quite a task when these drinks come their way…where does their body put all that sugar? How can I store it fast enough to keep my blood sugar down in the healthy range??? Consumption of sugary drinks has been one of the big driving for forces behind the obesity epidemic in the US and the rest of the world. So, this is great news that the consumption of sugary drinks is beginning to wane. Sort of!

I got to thinking, why do some people not drink these drinks? What is different about these people that keeps them from all that sugar? Why aren’t they like most people? Is it the cost of the drinks that put these folks off? I doubt it. Did they not know about these drinks? Of course not: the marketers of these products are too good to let that happen. Were these people just smarter than the rest of us? Did they know something that the rest of didn’t know?  I doubt that.

No, the reason is… that some parent, grandparent, or coach just said ‘no.’  Some adult in a child’s life knew that these drinks were not good for their health and refused to facilitate its consumption. They simply didn’t buy them, and they only allowed drinking them in unusual circumstances like parties, travel, and maybe during illness. I think it is that simple. An adult put limits on a behavior that they knew was harmful.

So, if you want to be one of those parents who takes charge of the sugary drink issue, what do you do?

  • Start by setting a good example
  • Make soda a special thing, not a forbidden thing
  • Educate your child why you are not in favor of them drinking a lot of sugary drinks.
  • Point out when ads are using them as a target so they begin to recognize  how advertisers can influence  their thinking and make them want things that are not good for them
  • Another incentive to change your child’s behavior can be money. Tell them when eating out, if they refrain from ordering a cold icy soda, you will instead give them the cold hard cash that you saved. Getting water instead of soda will mean some ‘coin’ in their pocket to spend as they wish. Makes them think, doesn’t it?

Ultimately, we all do what we perceive to be in our best interest…including children. Convince your children that it is in their best interest to eat and drink a healthy diet. Do whatever you can to keep your children from the addiction of sugary drinks because, in reality, you are all that stands between them and 45 gallons of sugar water a year.  Think about it.

This is Dr. Paul Smolen, thanking you for listening today. I hope I gave you some knowledge you didn’t have before. Check out many more podcasts at my website: www.docsmo.com and on iTunes.  This is DocSmo, hoping you can keep your child’s sweets, to an occasional treat.

Until next time.

Smo Notes:


America “super sized” (Pedcast)

Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, the pediatric blog  that gives parents practical, portable pediatrics on their time framework. I am Dr. Paul Smolen, your pedcast host. Today, I am going to bring you a different type of pedcast. Usually I try to bring you mostly factual information about a pediatric topic sprinkled with some observation from my doctor chair along with a few opinions. Not today… this is going to be “pure opinion.” I am going to get a little preachy about a topic that I feel very strongly about… childhood obesity. I am not going to candy coat the message; it’s coming straight at you like a fastball over home plate… straight and fast. So sit back and listen. Hopefully the message will come through clearly.

Oh boy, do we have our work cut out for ourselves. The obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Processed foods crept into the American landscape during the 20th century slowly but surely, one soda and sweet cereal at a time. Food companies saw new markets, and they met the need. They created new foods faster than your great-grandmother could darn your parents’ socks. We became enamored by easy, fast, and satisfying. Boy have we paid a price for all this “innovation.” Yes, nutrition on the fly let us spend less time shopping and preparing, but it also has made heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension a way of life in the western world. What I read says these maladies are all about lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle, not genes, genes, genes. What I find ironic is that for all the money we spend on antihypertensive medicines, cholesterol lowering drugs, and insulin for our diabetics, we could probably buy groceries for every American. One of the saddest things about my job is that I see many children who have never been and probably will never be in good physical or nutritional condition. I fear that these children will become adults thinking that good food is a side salad with their value meal at the drive thru and exercise is walking to the store to get a candy bar.  What will they provide for their children when they become parents? Less than optimal food, I suspect, and little activity. They won’t know any better… and  the cycle continues. It’s easy to eat junky processed food and it’s hard to buy, cook and serve real food. Providing wholesome food is one of the most important parenting tasks facing parents.

So how are we going to get ourselves out of this nutritional mess we have created? Here is what I suggest: Start by teaching your children the difference between whole food and processed foods…and repeat the message often until they get it! Make sure you are setting a good example of eating for your children by eating the way your grandmother would have wished you would. Make it a priority to have as many family meals as possible with real food. If you have the space, plant a small garden and involve your children in cultivating vegetables. Get your children involved with the shopping and cooking process; it’s fun and you will cherish the time you spend together in the kitchen someday…I promise. Vow to get all the sweet drinks out of everyone in your families diet…no soda, no sports drinks, no sweet tea, no energy drinks, no calorie laden coffee drinks. Limit fast food to no more than once a week… No, make that “eating out anywhere” no more than once a week. And finally, lets stop making every holiday a candy fest, every fund raiser a chance to sell sweets, every celebration a gluttonous festival of food, every sporting event a sugary slurry of drinks, and every accomplishment rewarded by something to be consumed.  We can find other ways of saying good job without insulin levels off the scale. Let’s start paying more attention to what children need rather than what they want. Only then will we get it right. Well, thanks for joining me today. I feel better getting all that off my chest. Who knows, maybe I will inspire a few people to make some big life changes. I always welcome comments from my listeners. To comment, leave your thoughts on Facebook, iTunes or at my website, www.docsmo.com. Who knows, you might see them in print. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, thinking it would really dandy  if our children got less candy. Until next time.