A new sports drink for kids is proving controversial. Some experts are concerned about Kickstart Spark, marketed by Advocare.
Geared to youngsters, the drink contains vitamins, minerals and caffeine. One form of the drink is meant for kids 4 to 11, and another for older youths.
Dr. Karen Hopkins, a pediatrician at New York University Medical Center who specializes in behavioral and child development,
The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that Kickstart Spark’s caffeine is in “a very concentrated form.”
“So, even though kids drink Coke (and other colas), and (eat) candy bars, and chocolate bars, and they drink hot chocolate,” she says, “the amounts of caffeine advocare com find a distributor in those are actually very small. But the caffeine in this drink is much more; it’s more even than an 8-ounce cup of coffee.”
Advocare issued a statement saying, “Kickstart Spark Energy Drink … contains caffeine (60 mg) at a level far below other common sources of caffeine like coffee … and energy drinks with 80 mg in a single can. Sodas, tea, frozen yogurt, vitamin waters and chocolate products, as well as pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines, are additional sources of caffeine.”
Still, that’s “too much caffeine,” Hopkins says. “Children should have no more than about 40 milligrams of caffeine a day. And that’s the maximum amount. I’m talking children about 6 to 12 years old. School-aged children.”
She says that a few chocolate bars would contain that much caffeine, since they “really only have 5 or 8 milligrams of caffeine.”
Hopkins says that the same things that happen to adults happen to kids when they get too much caffeine.
“You can get headaches,” she says. “You can become jittery and nervous. You can have stomachaches. You can increase blood pressure. And you wouldn’t want any of these things to happen to children at a young age and on a consistent basis. In addition, if you’re jittery, if you’re nervous, if you have headaches, that’s going to cause you to lose concentration and focus in school, which is their main activity.”
What’s more, Hopkins is worried about the message the drink is sending.
“The other part of it, that’s really more concerning in a way,” she says, “is that to promote a sports drink or energy-enhancing drink to children at this age is just not necessary, not appropriate.”
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Extra “good fats” from nuts and olive oil in a Mediterranean diet may help older adults lose weight, or at least avoid gaining it, a Spanish study suggests.
“Our hypothesis is that not all fats are the same; we have to differentiate fats from vegetables and fats from animal sources,” said lead study author Dr. Ramon Estruch of the University of Barcelona.
“Vegetable fat such as extra virgin olive oil and nuts help to reduce body weight when these foods are consumed in a healthy diet such as a Mediterranean diet,” Estruch added by email.
A Mediterranean diet typically includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. This diet also tends to favor lean sources of protein like chicken or fish over red meat, which contains more saturated fat.
While some previous research has linked a Mediterranean diet to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers, scientists haven’t conclusively proven that the diet itself is responsible, rather than other lifestyle choices made by people who eat this way.
For the current study, Estruch and colleagues randomly assigned 7,447 older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease to follow one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with one liter (about 34 fluid ounces)of extra virgin olive oil 24 day challenge from advocare a week, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams (1 oz) of nuts a day, or a low-fat diet.
At the start of the study, the men were 55 to 80 years old and the women were 60 to 80. All of them had either diabetes or three or more other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as a smoking habit, elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol.
None of them were told to restrict calories or exercise during the study.
After almost five years, people in all three groups had slightly reduced body weight but the change was bigger with the two groups assigned a Mediterranean diet, researchers report in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
People assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts lost 0.08 kilograms (less than half a pound) more weight than the group on the low-fat diet after five years, the study found.
Those on the Mediterranean diet with added olive oil, lost 0.43 kilograms (almost one pound) more weight than participants on the low-fat diet.
Researchers also looked at waist circumference over the five years and found little difference between the people on the Mediterranean diet with extra nuts and the participants assigned to a low-fat diet. The group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil had a slightly smaller increase in waist size than the low-fat diet group.
One limitation of the study is that it’s hard for researchers to confirm how strictly people followed their assigned diets, the authors note. The changes participants reported in fat intake as a percentage of total calories was also quite small.
Even so, the findings suggest that people trying to lose weight may not want to focus exclusively on cutting calories and fat, Dariush Mozzafarian, a nutrition researcher at Tufts University in Boston, writes in an accompanying editorial.
“Numerous trials have shown that, in people trying to lose weight, high-fat diets that focus on reducing starch, other refined grains and sugars are as effective or more effective than healthy low-fat diets in the long term,” Mozzafarian told Reuters Health by email.
“This trial should finally lay to rest our country’s long-running fear of fat, when it comes from healthy foods such as nuts and extra virgin olive oil,” Mozzafarian added.
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