September 26th, 2011

Energy Shots: The Next Big Thing in Marketing Caffeine to Children

The Atlantic

Marketers are pushing energy drinks to kids as low-calorie “healthier” alternatives, according to a recent paper from a nutrition committee.

A few months ago, the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a position paper on sports and energy drinks in the diets of children and adolescents.

The committee distinguished sports from energy drinks:

Sports drinks: beverages that may contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring and are intended to replenish water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.

Energy drinks: also contain substances that act as nonnutritive stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, l-carnitine, creatine, and/or glucuronolactone, with purported ergogenic or performance-enhancing effects.

The operative word is “purported.” The committee’s tough conclusion:

The use of sports drinks in place of water on the sports field or in the school lunchroom is generally unnecessary.

Stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents.

For the record, PepsiCo spent $113 million to market Gatorade in 2010 (says Advertising Age).

The committee was concerned about the effects of high-dose caffeine on kids. Although its report did not distinguish energy drinks from energy shots, its conclusion undoubtedly applies to those too. Energy shots are more concentrated versions of energy drinks.

This is a big issue because pediatricians are concerned about the marketing of all of these caffeine-laden drinks to kids. Marketers, the Nutrition Committee says, are pushing energy drinks to kids as low-calorie “healthier” alternatives.

BeverageDaily.com asked Red Bull, the leading energy shot seller, about its marketing practices. The company denies marketing its shots to kids.

Read more: http://bit.ly/pvRx8i

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