I have recently witnessed a sad trend amongst young children in Kuwait, many adolescent boys and girls are drinking coffee without realizing how its affecting them. I am sure many parents don’t know how caffeine affects their children either, not tying their behavioral problems to this addictive substance.
We need not look far for the proof that caffeine is an addictive substance, just witness the behavior of adults during the month of Ramadan when they cant have their coffee fix in the morning. The behavior ranges from lethargic and groggy to outright rude and violent; and they are supposed to be adults. How do you think caffeine works in a child’s body? Below are some side effects of caffeine on children:
- Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, especially in children’s brains where sensitivity to caffeine is far greater than adults. The #1 complaint from teachers nowadays is that kids are too hyper, and guess what, caffeine makes kids hyperactive. It also makes them anxious, jittery and creates stomach problems.
- Caffeine disrupts sleep, which creates a vicious cycle of sleep-deprivation and caffeine consumption.
- Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it flushes water out of the body rapidly via frequent urination, causing dehydration. Dehydration makes you feel groggy and un-energized, which makes you reach for coffee to get you going.
The bigger problem here is that people in general do not realize how much caffeine they are consuming per day, let alone how much their kids are consuming. So, how much caffeine is in some of the normal beverages consumed daily?
Coca-Cola 12 ounces 34.0 mg
Diet Coke 12 ounces 45.0 mg
Pepsi 12 ounces 38.0 mg
7-Up 12 ounces 0 mg
Brewed coffee (drip method) 5 ounces 115 mg*
Iced tea 12 ounces 70 mg*
Dark chocolate 1 ounce 20 mg*
Milk chocolate 1 ounce 6 mg*
Cocoa beverage 5 ounces 4 mg*
Chocolate milk beverage 8 ounces 5 mg*
Cold relief medication 1 tablet 30 mg*
Red Bull energy drink 8.3 ounces 80 mg
*Average amount of caffeine
Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Soft Drink Association
This shows how much caffeine is in regular beverages, it does not include the drinks that kids are buying at fancy coffee shops, which is much worse as these drinks contain so much sugar that wreak havoc on your child’s blood sugar regulation. With caffeine you have a catastrophe waiting to happen.
I’m all for giving my kids chocolate treats once in a while, but I absolutely draw the line with caffeinated beverages; they are too young to handle the stress it creates in their body.
Get involved in your child’s eating habits, don’t assume that at 14 they are now adults, they are still growing and developing, they still need your help.