Symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention among schoolchildren have been linked to consumption of sugary energy drinks, say experts from the Yale School of Public Health. This is the latest study to add support to the growing movement to limit these types of beverages among young people.
What’s more, boys were more likely to consume energy drinks compared to girls, and Hispanic boys in the study had the highest consumption rates overall.
“As the total number of sugar-sweetened beverages increased, so too did risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms among our middle-school students. Importantly, it appears that energy drinks are driving this association, lead researcher professor Jeannette Ickovics, stated in a university press release. “Our results support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that parents should limit consumption of sweetened beverages and that children should not consume any energy drinks.
The link between energy drinks and inattention
Ickovics and her team surveyed a randomly selected group of more than 1600 middle-school children with an average age of 12.4 years. When these children were asked about their energy drink consumption, researchers found an average of 2 high-sugar drinks were consumed daily, with some children consuming as many as 7 energy beverages. Not surprisingly, the more energy drinks a child consumed, the greater number of hyperactivity and inattention symptoms he or she exhibited.
Energy drinks have been indicated in a number of studies as potentially harmful to young children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning several years ago in regards to energy drinks and their ingredients; adverse events including death have been reported to the agency. It isn’t these “other” ingredients that are at the heart of Ickovics’ study, however. Sugar is the primary concern in the Yale research, and the experts indicate high-sugar beverages of any kind can be to blame.
Ickovics’s team explained the study was to further solidify previous research showing a link between sweetened beverages and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), poor academic outcomes, greater difficulties with peer relationships, and increased susceptibility to injuries. The study is also important, Ickovics indicated, because it shows a further need to investigate this link particularly for minority children.
Hispanic children are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to non-Hispanic white children, a disparity partially attributed to a diet high in sugary beverages and low-quality food. The Yale team noted that ADHD is notoriously under diagnosed among Hispanic children, but given their high rate of sugary beverage consumption, the data suggests these children are just as at-risk, if not more so.