The Negative Effect Energy Drinks Could Have On Your Height

When we think of growth — height, cognitive capabilities, and even muscle mass — we often think of food. We have to eat the right kind of food — proteins, good carbs, lots of vegetables (yes, broccoli is on the list), fruits, etc. for our physical and mental development. In fact, this is what we've probably been told countless number of times by our parents or guardians. But how often do we think of sleep? 

In fact, in our busy lifestyles, when we're running from one errand to another, sleep is usually the last thing we prioritize. Even with adolescents or younger children, ideas like, "I can catch up on sleep over the weekend" or "Just a few more minutes of homework" could become regular patterns. Enter caffeine and energy drinks. 

Energy drinks, particularly, have been somewhat of a controversial topic over the years. When more and more companies are coming out with attractive packaging and even more intriguing flavors, it's easy to reach for these highly caffeinated and sugary beverages when you want that quick boost of energy for the day. And it's even easier to hand them to our children after a long day outdoors when they're craving a sweet drink. Consuming large quantities of energy drinks every day, however, could cause increased anxiety, jitteriness, high blood pressure, poor sleep, cardiovascular issues, and even seizures. And, for growing children, lack of sleep means a whole lot more than it does for adults.  

Sleep is a key factor in growth

The idea that caffeine or the ingredients primarily found in energy drinks (think caffeine, sugar, ginseng, guarana, taurine, etc.) can directly affect a growing child's height is somewhat oversimplified, to say the least, but according to Beverly Hills-based eye surgeon Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler's TikTok post, the question you should be asking yourself is if your child's nutrition or sleep schedule is being negatively impacted by the consumption of energy drinks. 

Are they looking for a quick boost of energy (or even a satiation of an impulse for something sweet in their mouths) by drinking that last can of Red Bull in the fridge? What about those times when after-school basketball practices take a lot out of your 12-year-old and they have homework to finish? Are energy drinks the answer? They may work wonders by blocking the adenosine receptors in your brain that help prevent the feeling of drowsiness, but they are also going to be disrupting your kid's sleep. And sleep is important for a number of reasons — physical development, prevention of chronic health issues, healthy regulation of hormones, and efficient memory and learning capabilities (via National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) — being a few of them. 

It is also easy to replace healthy treats with energy drinks just because they're convenient, but this will directly influence the nutrition of a growing child. Proper nutrition is a part of how strong and healthy someone grows up to be.

There is such a thing as healthy energy drinks

If you or your teenager enjoy the good side of energy drinks — increased vitality to get through the day — there are healthier alternatives out there. Homemade protein smoothies or matcha green tea concoctions are just a few. You get to control the caffeine and sugar levels while getting creative with recipes you find on the internet. 

Pediatric dietitian Diana Schnee told Cleveland Clinic that with younger children, it's important to find out why they want the carbonated beverage in the first place. "Ask why they want it. Is it because their friends are drinking it? Or do they feel like they have low energy?" she added. 

If lethargy is a regular problem (even when they're getting proper sleep and nutrition), you may want to go and see a doctor about it. If all they want is more energy to get through the day, try restructuring their schedule, scaling back on some unnecessary activities, eating a good and balanced diet, drinking enough water, exercising, and making sure they get their recommended hours of sleep. You can always tell them that height is a dream only attainable if negative habits are replaced by healthier ones. As for you, if your favorite energy drink is damaging your heart, you're better off making yourself a cup of green tea when you want to put in an extra few hours of work during the week.