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December 6, 2006

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Ohio, USA:

Are energy drinks, such as Red Bull, safe for kids with type 1 diabetes?


Red Bull energy drink contains a very large amount of caffeine as compared with the average intake of the children in the U.S. (about 14 mg of caffeine). In fact, a Red Bull can is 250 ml with 82 mg of caffeine. A recent paper showed the results observed in 26 children between the ages of nine and 11 years that completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Habitual caffeine consumers (mean daily caffeine intake of 109 mg) and non/low-consumers (12 mg) were tested on two separate days following overnight caffeine abstinence. On each day, measures of cognitive performance (a number search task), and self-rated mood and physical symptoms, including alertness and headache, were taken before and after administration of 50 mg of caffeine or placebo. In summary, the results suggest that children probably derive little or no benefit from habitual caffeine intake, although negative symptoms associated with overnight caffeine withdrawal are avoided or rapidly reversed by subsequent caffeine consumption. Moreover, Red Bull contains taurine and glucuronolattone, and, to date, no data are published in the literature about this.

In my opinion, it is wise and safe to avoid Red Bull in kids under 11 years old. For kids 12 and over, a small amount of Red Bull (i.e., one 250 ml can every two days, or less) could be administered without any harm.

Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

They are just high caloric drinks. A lot of sugar and very high caffeine is unnecessary for anyone. Sugar-free and high caffeine values eliminate the sugar calories but, obviously, not the buzz. If someone with diabetes wanted to treat hypoglycemia, this could be used but why add caffeine? If someone with diabetes wanted to use a high caffeine drink without sugar, this fits the bill. If someone were using this as a way to stay awake, treat headaches or get a buzz, then the question remains why is so much caffeine needed in the first place.

Additional comments from Dr. Linda DiMeglio:

Our dietitian says, “I always tell parents that it’s not so much that they are unsafe in small amounts (each energy drink has the equivalent caffeine content of three cups of coffee), but they can result in anxiety and difficulty sleeping which isn’t good for growing children and teens. I think it’s also important for parents and kids to know that they need extra hydration when they are drinking these E2 drinks since they can have a “diuretic” effect.”

Furthermore, she suggests you read Should Kids Use “Energy Drinks?”Should Anyone?

Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:

These drinks are loaded with caffeine. In my humble opinion, they are not safe for children with or without diabetes.