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Claims high energy drinks making young footballers 'hyperactive'

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

  • Active: Coach Mark Lawrence would like to make Leckhampton Cheetahs, in green, an energy drink-free team

  • Expert opinion: Karen Maidment

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HIGH energy caffeine drinks could be banned by youth football clubs in Cheltenham, amid fears they're harmful to players.

Leaders of youth teams across the town have voiced concern at their players behaving hyperactively due to the effects of the beverages.

It comes as a nutrition expert said the drinks, many of which contain three times as much caffeine as a can of cola, could lead to mood swings and volatile behaviour.

Mark Lawrence, who coaches at Leckhampton Cheetahs under 11s, said: "Energy drinks have become a hot topic among fellow coaches and parents.

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"When I was playing football, water was the only drink anyone ever drank at a match, but now youngsters see sports stars endorsing the drinks and think that they have to have them.

"I would like to make Leckhampton Cheetahs an energy drink-free team but, ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide and it's not my role to dictate.

"All I will do is try to put the evidence in front of people and let them make their own minds up. We already provide the boys with half-time oranges and Jaffa Cakes so they hardly need any more stimulation."

Andy Sallis, who coaches at Cheltenham Saracens youth teams, echoed the view.

"We have come across problems associated with these high energy drinks," he said.

"One of our players had one recently and was a nightmare to deal with afterwards.

"I spoke to the parents afterwards and advised them not to give it to him before games."

The energy drinks, which often contain other ingredients like taurine, guarana and ginseng, are popular among children aged five to 16.

Karen Maidment, who runs Pure Body Balance, a nutrition and lifestyle clinic in Cheltenham, advised against giving them to children.

"These kind of drinks have no real nutritional value," she said. "Physiologically, they will ramp up the adrenal glands.

"It can lead to a brief energy high which will be followed by a low so in that sense it can make children more tired overall.

"Energy highs and lows can also be linked to mood swings – making them potentially more volatile in the classroom.

"Children are at an age when they are already very energetic – they don't need to have these drinks. In my line of work I always encourage them to take water on board instead."

A spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association said the drinks were not suitable for children and were, therefore, not marketed to under 16s.

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