December 2, 2022

Why should children not drink coffee?

Read Time:4 Minute, 10 Second


(CNN) — We have become a culture obsessed with coffee. However, with all the studies coming to light on how a cup of coffee can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and some cancers, what’s the harm?

This culture has reached our children.

Despite years of warning from pediatricians and other health professionals that coffee and other caffeinated beverages, such as sodas and sports drinks, can be harmful to young people, parents allow their children, even the smallest , have those drinks.

A study A 2015 study of Boston mothers found that 14% of respondents allowed their 2-year-olds to drink between 1 and 4 ounces of coffee per day (half a cup of coffee is 4 ounces). The study also found that 2.5% of mothers gave their 1-year-old children coffee.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 12 years of age not drink caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, sports drinks, or other products, while adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 should limit their intake to less than 100 milligrams a day, about the size of a regular cup of coffee. A “grande” 16-ounce serving of Starbucks’ popular Blonde Roast coffee contains 360 milligramswhile the same size as your Pike Place Roast it has 310 milligrams.

But it’s not just about the coffee. A bottle of sports drink can contain almost 250 milligrams of caffeine depending on the brand, according to a consumer reports investigation. A Cup of tea can have up to 47 milligrams, while a diet soda it can have 46. Chocolate also has some caffeine, and the amount increases as the color of the chocolate darkens. A single chocolate covered coffee bean can have 336 milligrams of caffeine, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

You can even buy caffeinated gum, mints, gummies, and energy bars in addition to the coffee ice creams.

Children are not little adults

Since children tend to have a smaller body size, less caffeine is needed to impair their functioning. A small amount for an adult could be overwhelming for a young child. Too much caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, contribute to reflux, and cause anxiety and sleep disturbances in children. In very high doses, caffeine can be dangerous.

“Children come to the ER with an irregular heartbeat or tachycardia,” says pediatrician Dr. Mark Corkins, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on nutrition. “Some are fine with giving small children a soda.”

The limits are mostly based on body size, and those limits increase when the child has grown enough to be able to metabolize caffeine more easily. However, if a child is small for her age, or has migraines, heart problems, or seizures, she may be even more sensitive, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

With all this bad news, why do parents let their kids have coffee?

It all starts when young children start asking for caffeinated beverages, like coffee, “because they see parents and older siblings drinking it — it’s a ‘grown-up’ thing,” said Corkins, division chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Memphis, via email.

And because parents perceive it as harmless, and it probably is in small amounts, they’ll let their kids take a sip or two, Corkins said: “However, once parents allow it, it becomes a slippery slope and it’s easier to let kids drink whatever they want than to fight them.”

I want a double with extra cream and caramel

There is another problem: the impact of coffee, tea, soft drinks and sports drinks on a balanced diet.

“My other problem with kids drinking coffee is that it has little nutritional value and substitutes for something that should be nutritionally complete, like milk and water,” says Corkins. “Milk contains calcium and vitamin D, and water is a nutrient. We are like 60% water, basically an ocean.”

Then there are the accessories. Gone are the days when coffee simply came with a lump of sugar and cream. Coffee shops on almost every corner now offer dozens of ways to flavor and fatten up your chosen beverage.

“These drinks are basically a dessert. They have the foam and the flavored syrups, with the whipped cream topping and then sprinkled on top. The presentation is better than some desserts I’ve seen,” says Corkins.

Extra sugars and heavy creams add fat and calories, while opting for sugar-free versions can expose children to artificial sweeteners.

What is the conclusion? “Avoid caffeine! Why do your kids need it?” Corkins says.

“Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness,” he added. “If your child feels like he needs caffeine to get through the day, it would be best to work with a pediatrician to identify the root cause of what’s creating the fatigue in the first place.”



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