Want to get the right energy, right now?  That’s what Wrigley’s new Alert Energy Caffeinated Gum says it will give you.  One piece of gum contains the caffeine found in half a cup of coffee.

Don’t kids like chewing gum?  Therein lies the rub, enough so that it has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to widen their probe into the health impact of caffeine-infused food on children.  Since May of 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been telling doctors:

Understand that energy drinks pose potential health risks primarily because of stimulant content; therefore, they are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should never be consumed.

“There really is little if any health benefit for children to be having any significant amount of caffeine in their diet,” Dr. Steven Abrams, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital told KTRH.  “Although we don’t want to demonize and say that all caffeine is horrible, putting it in more and more products has a risk for kids, and it doesn’t really have any benefit at all.  There have been a number of studies identifying that as you take in a lot of caffeine, and with these types of chewing gum and energy drinks you could end up taking in a lot of caffeine, that heart rates go up, people become more anxious, and in general performance is actually made worse not better.” 

“There is a real big difference between sports drinks and those that are marketed as energy drinks,” Dr. Jason Terk told KTRH.  He’s a pediatrician at Cook’s Health Care system.  “And people need to know that energy drinks are not filled with fluid that contains energy.  They are usually sugar-enhanced drinks that contain a lot of caffeine. Food and drinks containing caffeine have no place in the diet of children and adolescents, and parents need to make sure that they are avoided.”

The FDA had already begun looking in to how caffeine-infused drinks impacted the health of children and adolescents, but will now add to their investigation foods, such as potato chips, jelly beans, even waffles that have all had caffeine added.