Coffee For Kids?
Driving to work in the morning I have noticed carloads of teenage kids and families leaving coffee shops all over the city each holding their morning coffee beverage before heading to school or work respectively. Now, it is one thing to watch adults drown themselves in coffee to jumpstart their day, but I have to wonder is it okay for teenage kids. I don’t remember heading to the coffee shop on my way to high school. I can only guess that it must be the new teenage fad. Like all trends kids are experiencing these days, parents must know about the decision their kids are making.
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. The most common sources of caffeine in the United States are coffee and soft drinks. 80-90% of adults in the U.S. report regular use of caffeine. With the above facts, it is no wonder that our children have followed suit. The question is, is it acceptable to let children consume caffeinated drinks. Parents must know the short and long-term effect of caffeine on kids’ health.
Drinking soft drinks and coffee beverages significantly decreases the level of important minerals, antioxidants and vitamins needed to support healthy bones and important chemical reactions in our growing kids. Vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, magnesium and others are leached out of bones and other body systems to buffer the negative effects caffeine has on our body. This makes caffeine a bad decision to make when our kids need to ensure healthy bones and body systems for their future. Research has shown that coffee and caffeine intake can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, raise cholesterol levels, damage blood vessels, lead to insomnia, hyperactivity, irritability, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and other diseases and even cancer. Chronic use of caffeine, especially in large amounts, can sometimes produce tolerance, habituation and psychological dependence. Abrupt discontinuance of caffeine can sometimes cause physical withdrawal symptoms. Also noted was coffee was labeled only “possibly safe” in pregnancy and “possibly unsafe” when nursing. Does this sound like a good choice for our growing kids?
Food behavior and food choices are established already in childhood or adolescents and may significantly track into adulthood. We must be wise in our decisions during these precious years. As a loving parent please assist your kids in making good healthy choices. Here are some ways to make those choices easier.
- Watch your children’s caffeine intake. Limit the consumption to weekly events instead of daily events. Discourage them from drinking coffee, soft drinks and/or other energy drinks.
- Give your children an appealing alternative. Have juices or bottled water readily available.
- Do not substitute diet soft drinks for regular. Diet has less real sugars, but it actually contains more caffeine!
- If you as a parent are a 5-cup a day coffee drinker, or stop at the local coffee shop every morning remember your children are watching.
- Educate your children why coffee, soft drinks and energy drinks are not a healthy choice.
Please remind yourself and your children that the decisions we make today will affect us tomorrow!
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #08.
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