What drugs are kids hawking these days? Nope, not marijuana, it’s caffeine.
A recent paper published in Pediatrics by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control showed that 3 out of 4 U.S. children are consuming some kind of caffeine on a daily basis. That statistic hasn’t really changed over the last ten years, but what was notable in the study is that children are drinking more and more coffee.
In fact, 17- and 18- year olds are getting double the amount of caffeine from coffee compared to ten years ago, and even the younger pre-teen crowd is getting more and more caffeine from a cup of coffee.
Why? Part of it is because the consumption of sodas has gone down and coffee and energy drinks up. In fact, in teenagers, soda consumption nowadays accounts for about 40 percent of caffeine, whereas ten years ago it was around 60 percent. Coffee is up from 10 percent to 24 percent of caffeine intake, according to the study.
So kids are drinking less soda and more coffee. Is that a bad thing?
There are those that hold that the whole “coffee is bad for children because it will stunt their growth” argument is no more than a myth, based more off of marketing than science. But then there is the caffeine side of things.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep their children and teens away from coffee because of the potentially harmful effects including increases in heart rate and blood pressure. If adolescents do consume caffeine, the AAP says it should be no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is about the amount in a cup of coffee. It gets harder when it comes to energy and sports drinks, as it can often be hard to determine exactly how much caffeine the drink consists of.
“In many cases, it’s hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the label,” Marcie Beth Schneider PhD said in an AAP statement. “Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda.”
But while children might be craving caffeine, they’re not necessarily digging the strong taste of coffee, making things like blended and sweetened coffee drinks, Frappucinos for example, popular among the younger crowd. That of course gives you the mixture of sugar and caffeine, given that one tall Frappucino has about the same amount of sugar as a can of soda. A caffeine and a sugar high? You’re better off serving your kids fruits, nuts and water.
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Image: Martin Mutch