Because of their very name, sports and energy drinks are often viewed by consumers as a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened sodas. A study out Wednesday from UC Berkeley researchers disputes that view, finding that 21 popular beverages have high sugar content and other additives including caffeine and sodium, which may be harmful to children and teens.
"All of these beverages that are marketed to kids and teens … as if they're healthy, are just packed with sugar," said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy which commissioned the study.
In the report researchers at UC Berkeley's Atkins Center of Weight and Health looked not only at sugar and caffeine in these 21 beverages but also scrutinized additives such as guarana, ginseng, taurine, gingko biloba and ginger extract.
Dr. Patricia Crawford, the study's lead author, said of all these additives, only ginger extract is classified as "likely safe" by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She called it "troubling" that the other additives have not been widely studied in children and teens, yet are added to these drinks.