Sunday, March 21, 2010

Banning Energy Drinks for Kids

Children are gulping down energy drinks, to manage demanding schedules: like school, sports and homework. But doctors say, each sip brings dangerous health risks. Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins joins us now live in the studio to tell us about, an effort to keep the "high caffeine cans" out of the hands of kids.

This energy drink has three times the amount of caffeine than this can of soda. Your kid has the right to buy this without you even knowing it but that could change.

With names like Crunk, Rip It and Monster, kids are drinking them to get high on caffeine. They're doing it, to get a boost at school or on the court. “It makes you more powerful, have more energy.”

If you read the label, there's two main ingredients sugar and caffeine. One serving has double the kick of coffee. Pediatrician Neera Chhabra says that’s a lot, especially for a kid. “It’s more detrimental to children because their systems are more sensitive. Caffeine does effect the absorption of calcium which could decrease bone mass at a time when they are growing and trying to deposit calcium into their bones. Children may replace caffeine drinks for milk so they don't get the calcium they need in addition to loosing it."

Too much caffeine can make children irritable, cause anxiety and insomnia. Drinking while playing sports can lead to severe dehydration. Chhabra says Australian researchers found even more risks. “They have gone as far as saying it could affect the growing brain. The brain is growing until at least 16.”

For children under 16, Louisiana State Sen. Robert Adley wants to ban the sale of energy drinks. The bill would make it illegal for storeowners, like Ronnie Toney, to knowingly allow kids to buy the beverages. “If they make it illegal for me to sell it to kids, kids are going to come in to try to buy it. When I sell it, they will try to write me a ticket." That ticket, could cost him up to $500 under the proposed legislation.

In 2008, Kentucky, Maine and Michigan tried to ban energy drinks for kids. None of the bills passed. Other countries have been more successful. The French government banned Red Bull after the death of an 18-year-old athlete who drank four cans at a game. Denmark and Norway have also outlawed Red Bull.

Energy drinks became popular in Asia long before they reached the US. Japan began making the beverages in 1962. The first drink to reach the US was "jolt cola" in the 1980s. Then Red Bull hit the shelves in the US in 1997.

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