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You have probably seen the famous cartoon commercials that tell the viewing audience that energy drink Red Bull gives them wings. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says that energy drinks really should be labeled "for adults only".

Energy Drinks Put to Much Stress on Growing Bodies

Energy drinks are potent mixtures of amino acids and caffeine. A can of Red Bull, for instance, contains only a little less caffeine than a cup of espresso. The tiny can of the energy-boosting, refreshing drink also manages to pack in 27 grams of sugar along with vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and the amino acid taurine, and it's not even an especially high-carb energy drink. The manufacturers of Red Bull add a chemical called glucoronolactone to sustain the sugar high for a couple of hours—at which point the user will be ready for another can of Red Bull.

Children who drink energy drinks, however, seldom read the labels. Consider the contrast between these real product evaluations (slightly modified to protect the privacy of the children who reviewed them) of popular energy drinks and a nutritional analysis of their ingredients.

"Monster Energy XXL is, like, awesome. When you see it, it takes you a second that nobody is there to cue the angelic harp music (referring to the angels who get their wings from Red Bull in the Red Bull ads). The electric green on the black can reminds me of the Superbowl."

Monster Energy XXL is formulated with gurana, a South American herb that contains not just caffeine but other alkaloids that increase alertness without necessarily improving attention.

"Rockstar Energy drink has to be a diet drink because all rock stars are always on diets. It says you can party like a rock star and everybody knows rock stars don't get fat. I know it's OK because there's no sugar in it."

Every can of Rockstar Energy actually contains 58 grams of sugar, as much as two ice cream cones or two small jelly donuts. The product also contains taurine and eleuthero extract. This herbal extract keeps the body from breaking down testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for acne breaking out on teenage skin.

"Sobe Adrenalin Rush is like drinking the syrup from the bottom of a can of crushed pineapple. It's way to high in sugar for me. At $1.99 a can, I never buy it. But at $1.49 a can it's a real bargain."

Actually, Sobe Adrenalin Rush, at just 37 grams of sugar per can, is not quite as high in sugar as other, more popular energy drinks. Sobe Adrenalin Rush includes gurana, eleuthero, and taurine.

"XS Energy Blast is for health fans. It contains no sugar and no caffeine. And at $27 for 12 cans, it's just $1.50 a can. Way cheap!"

XS Energy Blast gets its energy blast from caffeine, although it actually is sugar-free. It is not advertised as helping people who drink it improve their math skills.

Maybe minors who drink energy drinks really don't always understand the labeling. But why do doctors think energy drinks are potentially dangerous?

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