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Study: Energy drinks linked to hyperactivity in preteens

By Jessica Kaing | Posted - Mar. 2, 2015 at 7:57 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Every day, middle school students suffer from hyperactivity due to excessive amounts of drinking energy drinks, according to a new study.

With the rise of energy-drink consumption from children, the concern of the damage from caffeine is rising. A study done by the Yale School of Public Health, published in the Academic Pediatrics Journal, reported alarming results: Students who drank energy drinks were 66 percent more at risk for hyperactivity than those who did not.

The authors conclude from the study, “Of all beverage types considered, only energy drinks had an independent association with risk of hyperactivity/inattention.”

The study consisted of 1,649 middle school students. The students came from different ethnic backgrounds (47 percent Hispanic; 38 percent black, non-Hispanic) and were given surveys to document their drinking habits. The objective of the study was to “examine the association of sweetened beverage consumption with hyperactivity/inattention symptoms among middle school students in a single urban school district.”

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Stephanie Ashmore is a dietitian for the State of Utah at the Department of Corrections, and she warns parents about the use of these kinds of drinks.

“Parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of energy drinks for kids. We often don't think of caffeine or other stimulants in energy drinks as drugs, but they are,” she said. “People often don't realize that caffeine can be lethal. Like most drugs, it's the dose that makes the poison. The European Food Safety Authority concluded that 3 mg/kg body weight is generally safe for children (3-18 years). For a 75-pound kid, this is about 100 mg or the amount found in a little more than half of a 16-ounce bottle of Monster or Rockstar.”

The good news is that hyperactivity can be reduced with efforts to prevent drinking energy drinks as a child.

"An increase in hyperactivity, can result in a decreased ability to focus leading to worsened school performance," Ashmore said.

Eve Steiner, a dietitian at Salt Lake Behavioral Health, believes “if the drink contains caffeine, that would explain the hyperactivity. Kids are very sensitive to caffeine.”

Steiner received a master’s degree in dietetics and has been a registered dietitian since 2010. She recommends that parents shouldn’t allow children to drink caffeine.

“Energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine (most of them)," she said. "Studies have shown for children under 12, 2.5 milligrams per every 2.2 pounds of body weight can be a danger. Bottom line: Kids should not be drinking caffeine. I would warn parents about this fact.”


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About the Author: Jessica Kaing -------------------------------

Jessica Kaing is a student at the University of Utah and a social media intern for ksl.com. Email her at socialintern@deseretdigital.com.

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