A new sports drink for kids is proving controversial. Some experts are concerned about Kickstart Spark, marketed by Advocare.
Geared to youngsters, the drink contains vitamins, minerals and caffeine. One form of the drink is meant for kids 4 to 11, and another for older youths.
Dr. Karen Hopkins, a pediatrician at New York University Medical Center who specializes in behavioral and child development,
"So, even though kids drink Coke (and other colas), and (eat) candy bars, and chocolate bars, and they drink hot chocolate," she says, "the amounts of caffeine in those are actually very small. But the caffeine in this drink is much more; it's more even than an 8-ounce cup of coffee."
Advocare issued a statement saying, "Kickstart Spark Energy Drink ... contains caffeine (60 mg) at a level far below other common sources of caffeine like coffee ... and energy drinks with 80 mg in a single can. Sodas, tea, frozen yogurt, vitamin waters and chocolate products, as well as pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines, are additional sources of caffeine."
Still, that's "too much caffeine," Hopkins says. "Children should have no more than about 40 milligrams of caffeine a day. And that's the maximum amount. I'm talking children about 6 to 12 years old. School-aged children."
She says that a few chocolate bars would contain that much caffeine, since they "really only have 5 or 8 milligrams of caffeine."
Hopkins says that the same things that happen to adults happen to kids when they get too much caffeine.
"You can get headaches," she says. "You can become jittery and nervous. You can have stomachaches. You can increase blood pressure. And you wouldn't want any of these things to happen to children at a young age and on a consistent basis. In addition, if you're jittery, if you're nervous, if you have headaches, that's going to cause you to lose concentration and focus in school, which is their main activity."
What's more, Hopkins is worried about the message the drink is sending.
"The other part of it, that's really more concerning in a way," she says, "is that to promote a sports drink or energy-enhancing drink to children at this age is just not necessary, not appropriate."