Energy and sports drinks do more harm than good

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sports drinks
Sports drinks do more harm than good, even if they’re advertised as energy-boosting hydration elixirs.

Need to do some homework, but feel burned out? Well, don’t reach for that sports or energy drink! Advertisements for these products would lead you to believe they will provide energy, stamina, and endurance to get through any exhausting task, but a new study recently found that the products are actually linked to unhealthy and unproductive behaviors.

Researchers asked 2,800 teens in middle school and high school if they chugged on these beverages. Almost 40% claimed they drank sports drinks multiple times a week, and 15% admitted to consuming 1 energy drink a week.

Well, those same teenagers were also more likely to spend several hours a week watching TV and playing video games when compared to teens who drank relatively less. They were also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and drinking sugary beverages!

What’s interesting is that teens shouldn’t bother with sports or energy drinks at all. If you are an athlete and believe a giant jug of Powerade is key to your performance, it’s not! Drinking plenty of water is more than enough to keep your body hydrated, and it contains none of the extra sugar and calories. On the other hand, energy drinks may provide energy, but they use stimulants – chemicals that arouse the body, like caffeine – to achieve this effect. It turns out that stimulants can be very dangerous for the bodies of developing kids, because not only do you feel extra tired when it wears off, it can negatively impact your ability to sleep, increase anxiety, and give you the jitters!

With all that said, it’s important to note this study is not saying the beverages necessarily cause bad behaviors; in fact, the researchers point out there’s no way to tell if the bad habits were already there before the consumption of these unhealthy drinks. The point of the research is to show that kids who consume sports and energy drinks are more likely to be engaging in the other behaviors as well. Considering that a 26-year-old recently suffered a heart attack from having too many energy drinks, this message is more important than ever.

Featured image courtesy of Reynermedia on Flickr. Image of Powerade courtesy of Manuel Garcia on Flickr.