Years ago parents objected to kids drinking coffee because it was thought that the caffeine would stunt their growth. There is no research to support that, but there is plenty of research to support other reasons why kids should not have caffeine or, at the least, their intake should be limited. Read on to learn some of the reasons caffeine isn’t good for kids.
- Caffeine is a stimulant – Caffeine is a naturally occurring drug found in many plant leaves. It can also be artificially created from chemicals. It is a known fact that caffeine has an effect on the central nervous system and in kids and adults some of these effects can be particularly negative.
- Nervousness – Too much caffeine can cause adults to become jittery and nervous so you know that the same effect will be magnified in kids. It doesn’t take much to get them all wound up. If the caffeine is coming from a soft drink or a sugar filled candy bar, then you must deal with the sugar rush on top of the stimulant of caffeine.
- Increased blood pressure – Kids don’t need to be saddled with high blood pressure and caffeine can cause an increase in blood pressure. For some kids this is extremely detrimental.
- Difficulty in sleeping – Crabby kids are not fun to be around, so you want to make sure your kids are getting a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, too much caffeine during the day will cause them to have a hard time getting to sleep at night. This means more headache for you as bedtime comes and goes, and you still have kids up trying to settle down. Not only that, but it makes for chaotic mornings, when your kids still have to get up after not having enough rest.
- Caffeine is a diuretic – Kids can get dehydrated easily, especially in hot weather. If they are drinking sodas with high caffeine content, they are more likely to get dehydrated even faster. Caffeine causes the body to eliminate water through urination, so if your kids are thirsty and downing colas or other drinks with caffeine, it’s really defeating the purpose. Water is a much wiser choice.
- Headaches – Some children will get headaches after ingesting too much caffeine. Kids who drink a lot of beverages with caffeine can also get headaches when they stop drinking them due to withdrawal from the drug.
- Tummy aches – Not all children can tolerate caffeine well. Some kids will develop tummy aches after drinking beverages or eating foods with high caffeine content.
- Increased heart rate – Because caffeine is a stimulant, some kids will experience increased heart rates after its consumption. This can be a frightening episode for some kids since they have no idea what is happening to them.
- Obesity – Since caffeine is often in products with high sugar content, over consumption can lead to childhood obesity. Research has found that kids who consume 12 ounces or more of soda daily are 60% more likely to encounter early obesity.
- Dental issues – Another problem that arises with over consumption of products high in sugar and caffeine is the prevalence of dental cavities. Tooth enamel is eroded away through the acid in the soda and the effect of sugar.
The US has not determined guidelines for caffeine intake for kids, but the Canadians suggest no more than 45 milligrams daily for preschoolers. That is about the average amount found in 4 small chocolate bars or one can of soda with the usual amount of caffeine. Most foods and drinks that contain caffeine do not have sufficient nutritional value to make it worth experiencing the down side of the drug. Considering all the negative effects caffeine has on children and their health, parents would be better advised to offer their children more nutritional beverages or water as an alternative to caffeinated drinks. Better choices will lead to better health for your kids.