The Four A's of Fiber: "Remember the four A’s of fiber: apples, artichokes, apricots, and avocados. "

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Do You Know What Your Kids are Drinking?

(photo originally appeared on

Recently one of my 8th grade students was taken to the hospital. Her kidneys were beginning to shut down. She was dehydrated. I guess it's no big surprise - she consumes 2 liters of Volt a day!

She also doesn't eat breakfast, often doesn't eat lunch, and never drinks water. A definite recipe for disaster.

No longer relegated to college dorm dwellers cramming for finals, energy drinks have fast become the "drug of choice" for many teens and even pre-teens. You may not buy it for your kids, but they seem to find it on their way to school - at the local convenience store, from their friends, etc. I'm just waiting to see some guy parked at the edge of my school selling it from the back of an unmarked van.

Caffeine in large quantities isn't good for anyone, but the younger you are, the more detrimental it can be. On average, a 12 oz espresso has about 100 mg of caffeine in it. Since there are easily hundreds of different energy drinks, the side by side comparison is tricky, but it's not uncommon for an energy drink to have about 200 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. To check out your own side-by-side comparison of energy drinks, click here.

I informally polled my 8th graders and they ranked their energy drinks like this:

1. Monster

2. Rockstar

3. Red Bull

When asked about Volt, they said, "It just tastes like Sprite. It doesn't do anything to me."

What it is that teens and pre-teens want it to "do" to them?

They want to caffeine buzz. They believe it helps them stay focused in school. They want to be able to say, "Man, I was really flyin'!" to their friends. I hear it on and off during the school day. They bring it in their lunch, and then ditch the food. The abuse of energy drinks is reaching epidemic proportions. Fox News reported it this way in October. NPR reported on the epidemic with a podcast and article here.

One of the newest on the market, that I can promise you the kids will go to buy in droves, is called Cocaine. Although the manufacturers promise there is no actual cocaine in their product, they do admit to a secret ingredient that numbs the throat of the consumer.

Where will it end?

Curious about you or your children's caffeine intake. Calculate it here.

Take it one step further. Curious about how the hundreds of energy drinks affect your child based on his or her weight, click here and visit Death by Caffeine.

Here at BRAIN FOOD we believe "everything in moderation" and that holds true for energy drinks. However, children are not mature enough to know what moderation means. As parents we need to monitor their intake of all food and drink until they can show that they know how to care for their bodies unsupervised. Choose to be informed.


Eva Marie Everson said...

This information should be in the hands of every principle out there! I, for one, am printing this and handing it directly to my granddaughter's principle. My hope is that she will have all teachers, parents, etc. read this. Make it a part of the school's newsletter, etc. Wow!

brenda nixon said...

How frightening that vicious marketers devour our youth just for a profit margin. To stoop so low as to entice kids with an energy drink named Cocaine ... and one that is probably very unhealthy as the name suggests ... tells me that parents must be alert and ever vigilant.

I agree this information should be in the hands of every school administrator.