What are the impacts of energy drinks on children?

A recent headline about the amount of caffeine in some energy drinks shocked a lot of parents and some lawmakers.

The Food and Drug Administration is now taking a closer look at PRIME Energy drinks which touts 200 milligrams of caffeine per can, equivalent to six cans of Coke. The argument from some U.S. senators is that PRIME seems to market its energy drink to kids. 

FOX 35 sat down with middle school teacher Kathy Winning, who’s also a mother of two active boys. She doesn’t allow her kids to have caffeine, but she does get a front row seat to plenty of middle schoolers who bring energy drinks to class.  

"One kid will come in with an energy drink one day and all the kids are wondering what it is, and then the next day several other kids will come in with the same thing," Winning said. "I wish they would just come in with sharpened pencils and not an energy drink."  

She worries about the impact on their developing brains. We asked pediatrician Dr. Rachel Prete of Orlando Health about that concern. She said the caffeine products we buy every day are studied for adult use, not children. Dr. Prete said adults have built up a tolerance to caffeine, but kids have not.

So what does caffeine do? Studies show it raises your blood pressure and heart rate and can cause children to have sleepless nights. Caffeine can also make it harder for kids to focus because it makes them anxious. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids between 12 and 18 limit their caffeine to 100 milligrams a day – equal to one 8-ounce cup of coffee or two cans of cola. For kids under 12, doctors recommend no caffeine at all. 

We looked at some of the more popular energy drinks on the market and compared them to other caffeinated beverages. 

PRIME Energy may be in the spotlight, but it isn’t the only one with 200 milligrams of caffeine. 

Celsius has the same amount in a 12 ounce can, compared to Red Bull, which has nearly half that amount. 

Dr. Prete said, as parents, we need to be label readers. She also said we need to get our kids back to the basics. 

Number one is getting a good night’s sleep. She believes kids turn to energy drinks because they’re exhausted and she said too much screen time contributes to that exhaustion, with kids staying up late on their phones. 

PRIME Energy does carry a disclaimer on the label saying this beverage is "not recommended for children under 18 years of age". We did reach out to the makers of PRIME, Celsius, and Red Bull for comment. 

As of Friday morning, we're waiting to hear back from PRIME and Celsius.

PRIME Hydration drinks do not contain caffeine.