Energy Drinks: Yet Another Dangerous Substance for Teens?

Jacqueline Burt Cote

red bullYou've already talked to your teen about avoiding drugs, alcohol, salvia, bath salts, Four Loko, and god knows what else: Now you can add energy drinks like Red Bull, AMP, and Rockstar to the do-not-consume list. Not only do these beverages pack more caffeine than a Venti Italian Roast, the added herbal stimulants like guarana and taurine give an added jolt that could lead to high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and insomnia. Plus, unlike traditional "sports" drinks such as Gatorade, energy drinks do a better job of dehydrating than re-hydrating your kid.

That all sounds very bad, but I have to admit I'm not too hopeful about teens sticking to this rule. It's a pretty staggering parental accomplishment if you succeed in convincing your kid to "just say no" to a cigarette or a beer or a bong hit. How many teens are really going to hold up a hand in protest when offered a Red Bull? It's like expecting a 5 year old to turn down a lollipop: "No thanks, Mommy says candy will give me cavities." Good luck with that one! I try to avoid making anything too much of a "forbidden fruit" for my kids, because that only makes whatever it is -- from TV to sugar -- all the more enticing.

I'm not saying I'd go out and buy my 14 year old a case of AMP, but I wouldn't make a huge deal about the dangers of energy drinks, either. You've got to pick your battles, after all, and I'd rather have my kid on caffeine than crack.

Will you ban energy drinks in your house?


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