The Dangers of Caffeine for Children
“Please, mom. Can I have a Coke? Johnny’s mom lets him have sodas.”
Parents everywhere face this question on a daily basis. While most are willing to accept that sugary, caffeinated beverages are not the best drink choice for children, many don’t understand the reasoning. Here are eight clinically proven reasons why sugary, caffeinated drinks are bad for kids (and adults, too).
- Stimulating – Caffeine is a stimulant. Most adult bodies can process caffeine without ill effects. They only feel more energized. Children, however, are smaller and just cannot tolerate the effects. They may experience an upset stomach, headaches, jitteriness and trouble concentrating and sleeping for up to six hours after consuming a caffeinated drink.
- Nutritionally Deficient – There are no nutritional benefits to having caffeinated beverages. Zip. Zero. Nada.
- Dehydrating – Soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages such as sweet tea and coffee are diuretics, which cause an increase in the production and elimination of urine. Because much of the fluid consumed is lost through elimination, it does not adequately supply the body with fluids for hydration.
- Suppresses Appetite – Caffeinated beverages such as soda suppress the appetite, so kids are less likely to eat the foods that provide the vitamins their growing bodies need.
- Can Cause Obesity – Numerous studies have shown that there is a link between sugary drink consumption and obesity. One study found that for each 12-ounce soda a child drinks a day, they increase their risk for obesity by 60%.
- Sugar Overload – An average 20-ounce soft drink contains 15-18 teaspoons of sugar! Imagine your child scooping 15 teaspoons of sugar directly into their mouths the next time they ask for soda! Perhaps you will reconsider. We hope so.
- Bad Teeth – Children who drink sugary, caffeinated beverages are more prone to tooth decay. Also, the high acid content of these drinks can erode the teeth over time.
- Calcium Deficiency – Filling their bodies with caffeinated or sugary beverages means there is less room for beneficial drinks such as milk. In addition, phosphorus found in soda can deplete bones of calcium.
It is important to teach children to love drinking water from an early age. If your kids are already hooked on caffeinated beverages, have faith! Slowly decrease the amount they are permitted each day and make it a goal to get to the point that sugary or caffeinated beverages are only consumed on special occasions. If this is too drastic, limit to no more than a couple per week.
We are here for you. If you have concerns about your child’s diet, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced pediatric providers. We will work with you to develop a plan to get more nutritionally beneficial foods and drinks into their body.