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Is coffee bad for you as a teenager

is coffee bad for you as a teenager

Is coffee actually healthy, can the caffeine boost energy and performance, and how much is too much? We discover the top 5 health benefits of coffee. In fact, for some, it is part of their everyday diet. In this article, we talk about the benefits of drinking black coffee, how it can help you. Such high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems and possibly death. Adolescents and young adults need to be cautioned about excessive.

Is coffee bad for you as a teenager -

Ask the Experts: When Can Kids Start Drinking Coffee?

Coffee is addictive and withdrawal symptoms are real.
– Toby Amidor, MS, RD

“Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. There are no standards in the U.S. for caffeine intake in kids, but Canada has a maximum limit of 45 mg per day (equivalent to the caffeine in one can of soda). Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, jitteriness, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and increased heart rate. In younger children, these symptoms occur after just a small amount. Further, childhood and adolescence are the most important times for bone strengthening. Too much caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, which negatively affects proper growth. Additionally, adding cream and loads of sugar, or drinking high calorie specialty coffees, can lead to weight gain and cavities. So when is it okay for kids to start drinking coffee? A few sips here and there are no big deal. However, when sips turn into daily cups, that’s a whole other story. Coffee is addictive and withdrawal symptoms are real, so the later you start, the better. I recommend starting towards the end of adolescence when growth and development is slowing down.”

Author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. Follow Toby on Twitter @tobyamidor or visit Toby Amidor Nutrition.

Coffee is a vessel for empty calories in the form of added sugar.
– Andy Bellatti, MS, RD

“The research I’ve seen points to negative cardiovascular and neurologic effects, namely anxiety and insomnia, in children who consume caffeine. These days, the issue is not coffee itself, but rather the cloyingly sweet ‘energy drinks’ commonly consumed by tweens and teenagers. In many cases, energy drinks are marketed to teenagers. The other problem right now is that ‘coffee’ has become synonymous with 20-ounce coffee-ish concoctions largely made up of syrups, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. In the case of many teenagers, coffee is a vessel for empty calories in the form of added sugar. As far as drinking ‘real’ coffee on a daily basis — espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes — I think it’s prudent to wait until the age of 18.”

Former writer of Small Bites and strategic director of Dietitians for Professional Integrity. Follow Andy on Twitter @andybellatti or visit Dietitians for Professional Integrity.

The effects of excessive caffeine include hyperactivity, mood swings, and anxiety.
– Cassie Bjork, RD, LD

“There’s not necessarily a black and white answer for what age is appropriate to introduce coffee. The main downfall is that coffee has caffeine, a stimulant, which can make it an addictive substance. Most would likely agree that an addiction to anything is not ideal, especially in childhood. Yet this can happen if coffee is consumed excessively, regardless of age. The effects of excessive caffeine include hyperactivity, insomnia, poor appetite regulation, mood swings, and anxiety. Tolerance to caffeine widely varies from person to person. Most recommendations for adults are to keep caffeine to 200 to 300 mg per day to avoid experiencing negative side effects. And for developing children, it may be wise to stick to half of this amount to be safe.”

Registered, Licensed Dietitian and founder of A Healthy Simple Life. Follow Cassie on Twitter @dietitiancassie.

Soda and energy drinks contain similar amounts of caffeine.
– Alex Caspero, MA, RD

“As we all know, coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that affects both adults and children. Soda and energy drinks contain similar amounts of caffeine. At low levels, caffeine can help increase alertness and focus. However, too much can cause jitteriness, nervousness, headaches, and increased blood pressure. Since children are smaller than adults, the amount of caffeine needed for this to happen is lower. There are no set guidelines in the U.S. for caffeine intake by kids, but I would consider a few things. First, caffeinated drinks like sodas, frappuccinos, and energy drinks contain a lot of empty calories, with similar amounts of sugar as you’d find in candy bars, which I wouldn’t recommend daily. Secondly, caffeine is a diuretic, so I would recommend extra caution if your child is drinking coffee and exercising, especially outside. One thing that caffeine doesn’t do is stunt growth. Although this belief was once promoted heavily, the theory isn’t backed by research.”

Blogger, health coach, and founder of Delish Knowledge. Follow Alex on Twitter @delishknowledge.


How much caffeine is too much?

A day without a latte, cup of tea, or caffeinated soft drink is unthinkable for many people. Yet caffeine poses some health risks. Although individuals seem to differ in their vulnerability to caffeine’s influence, if drunk in moderation, the risks appear negligible.

Studies on caffeine discount any risk of cancer. A major report from the American Institute for Cancer Research, based on numerous studies, concluded that coffee has no link to cancer risk.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day, however, may increase the risk of heart problems. In fact, a new study suggests that even two six-ounce cups of coffee a day may increase blood test values that measure inflammation.

If future research confirms these findings, there may be cause for concern. But it’s too early to severely limit your coffee consumption for this reason, because two large American studies show no effect of coffee or caffeine on the incidence of heart disease.

Osteoporosis warning
Earlier research seemed to show that caffeine increases the loss of calcium, raising the risk of osteoporosis. Even in a fairly recent study, women aged 65–77 who drank more than 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily — about 18 ounces of regular coffee — showed greater bone loss over a three-year period than those who drank less. But the bone loss occurred only among a minority of women with an unusual variation in their cell vitamin D receptors.

In fact, high caffeine consumption only seems to cause bone loss in elderly women who don’t get enough calcium. As long as elderly women get the recommended 1,200 mg of calcium a day, it should be safe for them to drink up to 300 mg caffeine or about 18 ounces of coffee or its equivalent. Caffeine does not appear to adversely affect the bones of premenopausal women at all.

At one time, some consumer advice claimed that caffeinated drinks deplete the body’s fluid levels because caffeine increases urination. More recent research shows that a person’s fluid balance is not significantly affected by a moderate use of caffeine.

Bad for high blood pressure?
Since some studies suggest that two to three cups of coffee can raise blood pressure around 10 points, many physicians limit people with high blood pressure to 200 mg (two six-ounce cups of coffee) per day or less. However, regular caffeine consumers may develop a caffeine tolerance that prevents blood pressure elevations, according to other studies.

The greatest reason people drink caffeinated beverages is to increase their energy and alertness. Studies show that 100 to 200 mg of caffeine (about 1 to 2 cups of regular coffee) are enough to achieve these results. When caffeine consumption climbs to 250 to 700 mg per day, people may experience nausea, headaches, sleep difficulties or increased anxiety. People may have heart palpitations with more than 1,000 mg.

Some day, there may be individual advice for everyone about how much caffeine they can safely consume. Research, however, is only beginning to explain why caffeine’s influence varies so much. For instance, genetic differences in the enzymes that metabolize caffeine cause some people to process caffeine quickly, thus reducing their exposure to caffeine’s effects sooner. There are also inherited differences in cell receptors.

For now, you should stick to moderate amounts of caffeine. For an adult, that means no more than 300 mg daily, which is three 6-ounce cups of coffee, four cups of regular tea, or six 12-ounce colas.

A person may want to have even less, depending upon how caffeine affects their sleep, blood pressure, digestive system and overall well being. Children, nursing mothers or pregnant women, on the other hand, should have much less because caffeine will have stronger effects in smaller bodies.


01 Dec 2019

Increasingly, we see headlines about the positive health effects of coffee. This seems to be a huge swing away from a couple of decades ago where coffee seemed to be bad for us and was blamed for interrupting our sleep and making our hearts pound in a bad way. So, what has brought about this change in thinking?

One reason is that the way coffee is made in some countries has changed. Some of the original research focussed on coffee, once popular in Sweden, which was made by boiling ground coffee. This type of filtered coffee has been associated with increased risk of heart disease, but it’s not seen where the coffee isn’t boiled and is filtered. The reason for this is not entirely clear, but some studies have suggested that unusual types of fat in the coffee can alter how our bodies make and use fats and cholesterol. In theory, this could increase risk of heart disease. In addition, this type of coffee has become less popular with the rise of people drinking other types of coffee such as espresso.  

Different countries, different coffees?

Coffee is not the same world over and it’s unlikely that the coffee in many of the studies carried out around the world are the same as the one served in your local coffee shop such as the salted caramel latte with extra whipped cream and sprinkles! In a recent analysis of a Greek population, we attempted at least to see if a research group I am involved in could standardise the coffee drunk in Greece so that the results could be compared to those in the rest of the world. This wasn’t a simple task, as it may not be the same drink, even before the milk and extras are added. The good news is that it was found that it doesn’t have to be a posh fresh coffee to suggest health benefits, instant coffee seems to be just the same as fresh, with or without caffeine.

Be wary of the caffeine

Until recently, most of the focus on coffee has been about the caffeine it contains. The average cup of coffee contains about 90mg of the stuff (depending on the type of coffee and how it’s made). A double espresso, the typical base for many coffee shop coffees, will contain about 125mg and the more shots you have in your coffee means that you will get more caffeine.

Health organisations around the world suggest that most people can safely consume up to 300mg of caffeine a day. Some people are advised to consume less though. The NHS suggests that pregnant women consume no more than 200mg, or 2 cups, of caffeinated coffee a day. This is because studies have linked caffeine intake (not coffee intake) with low birth weight babies. Pregnancy aside, the safe limits are set because research has linked intakes of over 600mg a day to insomnia, nervousness, irritability, increased blood pressure and upset stomachs, although response to caffeine varies hugely from person to person.

While caffeine is perhaps the most socially accepted psychoactive drug around, with an ability to increase alertness and aid energy release, especially from fats in exercise, it’s probably not the only or main substance in coffee linked to improved health.

Coffee is a rich source of potassium and is linked to lower blood pressure. Having said that, people with kidney disease may need to lay off the coffee - especially as many people add milk which increases the potassium content even more. What might also be a surprise is that a cup of coffee can contain as much as half a gram of fibre! The fibre found in coffee is different to the type of fibre we find in wholegrains, though - they are small soluble compounds known as ‘phenolics’.

These phenolics, along with caffeine, add to the bitter taste and, in the test-tube, are known to be powerful antioxidants. Unfortunately, the ability of these compounds to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and liver disease by neutralising up harmful ‘oxidising’ chemicals in our bodies is unlikely, as they are poorly absorbed. They could assist in helping the bacteria in our gut to maintain our health though. In addition, the small amounts that are taken into our bodies might help support our liver and other defences so they can be better at preventing disease.

Evidence for health benefits of coffee

Effect on HealthWhat is it in the coffee that is having this effectType of Evidence
AlertnessCaffeineApproved EU claim from European Food Safety Agency
Increased attentionCaffeineApproved EU claim from European Food Safety Agency
Increased performance inshort term high intensity and endurance exerciseCaffeineApproved EU claim from European Food Safety Agency
Reduced risk of heart diseaseNot knownConsistent in a number of
studies following up people who drink coffee for 5-10 years
Risk of developing
liver cancer
Not knownConsistent in a number of studies following up people
who drink coffee for 5-10 years
Risk of developing
Type 2 diabetes
Not knownConsistent in a number of
studies following up people who drink coffee for 5-10 years
Risk of developing
other cancers
Not knownSome studies suggest a reduced risk, but inconclusive as others show no benefits


So, coffee can be healthy, but is it as healthy as news stories say?

There might just be something in coffee which is helpful to health, but is it as good as some of the papers say? Recent headlines have claimed that up to 25 cups of coffee a day are safe for heart health and that coffee may be the secret to helping fight obesity, but is this true?

Firstly, the idea that up to 25 cups a day is good for our hearts was not a formal research paper but was a talk at a scientific meeting so much of the detail is hard to assess. However, when looking deeper into the research, the scientists grouped together everyone consuming 3 to 25 cups a day and only excluded those who drank more than 25 cups of coffee a day. So, although some people did drink two dozen cups of coffee a day, it’s more likely that most people had a far more typical 3 to 5 cups a day!

In addition, when the news reports stated heart health, it didn’t look at whether heart attacks were prevented, but how ‘bouncy’ blood vessels were in the coffee drinkers’ fingers. This is an indirect assessment of risk of heart health, but it’s not exactly the same thing so this looks to be a good example where the headlines make an impact by inflating both the number of cups and the potential health benefits of coffee.

Another recent coffee story suggested it could be a potential way of managing weight. The study investigated different types of body fat cells in the lab. This is because there is a special type of fat, called ‘brown adipose tissue’ found in people and more brown fat is found in naturally thinner people. Unfortunately, this study did not look at people who were overweight, nor did it look at changes in weight or if they actually burnt more calories! So, it didn’t really measure if coffee can help people lose weight at all. Once, again this was a news story that reported more than the actual research found out!

It’s quite possible that coffee could be healthy though. Many studies of large communities of people seem to show it can be healthy when drunk in moderation. It seems that people who drink 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day appear to have lower risk of heart disease, liver disease and developing Type 2 diabetes, than those drinking none or those drinking many more. It’s not all about coffee intake though as other lifestyle factors such as smoking or non-smoking and fruit and vegetable intakes have an impact on health risks too.

Is coffee healthy then?

The way coffee is made seems to have a big impact on how healthy it is. Different beans, ways of roasting and brewing can certainly vary the caffeine content. For most people it’s the milk, sugar and syrups, cream, sprinkles and extras that probably influence how healthy your coffee is. A black americano or instant coffee will only contain a handful of calories, whereas the largest salted caramel mocha can contain over 500 calories, a quarter of a woman’s energy needs for a day and more.



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Is coffee bad for you? It can have many health benefits — as long as you drink it in moderation

  • Coffee isn't bad for you, as long as you drink it in moderation. 
  • Coffee can have many health benefits, such as boosting energy, providing essential nutrients, and reducing your risk for long-term health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. 
  • However, coffee can be unhealthy if you drink too much or add too much sugar — here's how to know if you're drinking the right amount. 
  • This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine. 
  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

It's estimated that 49% of US adults drink coffee daily. But is it good or bad for your health? Research has found some advantages and some potential disadvantages, depending on how much you drink. 

Here's what you should know about the benefits and risks of drinking coffee, and how much you should drink to gain its positive health effects. 

Coffee boosts energy and helps you focus 

Coffee promotes concentration and alertness, allowing a break from the morning fog and giving you a useful energy boost. That's because it's packed with caffeine. 

The caffeine in coffee is a psychoactive drug that changes mood to reflect that feeling of attentiveness, concentration, and contentment through stimulation of the central nervous system. These effects can usually last around four hours. 

For reference, in an 8-ounce cup of coffee, there is about 133 milligrams (mg) of caffeine — compared to just 53 mg in the same amount of tea and just 65 mg in a 12-ounce soft drink. 

Coffee may help relieve migraine headaches

At the onset of a migraine headache, the blood vessels in your head enlarge and increase their blood flow. The caffeine in coffee causes vasoconstriction, or narrowing of those vessels, which restricts the blood flow and can help reduce pain. 

That's also why caffeine is found in many headache remedies, such as Excedrin Migraine and BC Powder, which are over-the-counter medications, and Fioricet, which is a prescription medication. 

Coffee may improve long-term health

A study published in 2006 in the journal Diabetes Care found that younger and middle-aged women had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes through coffee consumption, whether decaffeinated or regular. These results suggest that it's not just the caffeine that is of benefit when it comes to keeping insulin levels steady. 

"Coffee is also thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease leading to heart attacks and stroke thanks to the antioxidants and micronutrients present," says Chloe Paddison RDN, LD, owner of Cureative Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice. 

While coffee won't contain a huge percentage of your daily recommended value for any nutrients, it does contain the following vitamins and minerals: 

  • Niacin. A cup of coffee has about 0.5mg of niacin, a powerful B vitamin that provides benefits for skin and digestive health. 
  • Potassium. A cup of coffee has about 16mg of potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and supports muscle and nerve function. 
  • Magnesium. A cup of coffee has about 7mg of magnesium, an important regulating enzyme that helps maintain strong bones and a healthy heart. 

Some coffee drinks contain unhealthy ingredients 

But it matters how you drink your coffee. "Coffee can be very beneficial, unless we are adding loads of sugar and abusing the frequency," Paddison says. "You don't have to drink black coffee to reap the benefits, but we have to be mindful of how we flavor it." 

At popular coffee spots like Starbucks, liquid sugar flavoring is pumped liberally into many drinks. A good example is the White Chocolate Mocha drink — the large-size beverage contains 43o calories, with 53 grams of sugar and 18 grams of fat. 

Too much coffee can have adverse health effects

Coffee affects everyone differently. Some people have a higher tolerance for its stimulating effects, while others can get jittery off just one cup. 

If you have a low tolerance, or drink more coffee than you're used to, you may experience the following physical symptoms: 

How much coffee you should drink 

To get the health benefits of coffee and minimize the risks, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking no more than four 8-oz cups of coffee a day, which is the equivalent of 400 mg of caffeine. 

However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents 12 to 18 years old should only drink one cup of coffee a day. In addition, pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than two cups per day. 

The bottom line

Overall, it's important to pay attention to how coffee makes you feel. Some people may be more sensitive to the effects, especially if they aren't used to consuming caffeinated drinks every day. But, as long as you try to stick to four 8-oz cups or fewer each day, coffee can have many health benefits. 

Related articles from Health Reference:

Jessica Farthing is a freelance writer lucky enough to live on the coast of Georgia. In addition to exploring topics for Insider, she's written for Eating Well Magazine, Eat This, Not That, MSN, YourTango, and many other publications discussing food, lifestyle, health, and disability.She enjoys exploring health topics and sending the links to her three children, trying to convince them to take care of themselves. Life as an empty nester is challenging her to take on those unfinished projects, like a cookbook and a thriller novel or two. Jessica spends her downtime riding her horses, Henry and Limerick, and working off those sore equestrian muscles on her yoga mat. She and her husband Paul are enjoying their dinners for two. You can follow her on Instagram at @saltairsavannah. 



Do you drink just one cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning, hoping the caffeine in it will jump-start your day? Do you follow it up with a caffeinated beverage or two and then drink several more cups of coffee throughout the day?

Does it matter?

According to scientists at the FDA, caffeine can be part of a healthy diet for most people, but too much caffeine may pose a danger to your health. Depending on factors such as body weight, medications you may take, and individual sensitivity, “too much” can vary from person to person.

Learn more about caffeine in the following questions and answers.

1. Which kinds of foods and beverages contain caffeine?

Caffeine can be found naturally in the plants we use to make coffee, tea and chocolate. It’s also found in some plants used as flavorings, such as guarana, or alternative teas popular in South American, such as yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) and Ilex guayusa.

Caffeine may also be added as an ingredient to foods and beverages.

2. How do you know how much caffeine a food or beverage contains?

Many packaged foods, including beverages and dietary supplements containing caffeine, voluntarily provide information on the label as to how much caffeine they contain. Consumers should take care when consuming for the first time a new packaged food containing added caffeine if the amount of caffeine in the food is not declared on the label.

There are several online databases that provide estimates of caffeine content of certain foods and beverages such as coffee and tea. However, the amount in these brewed beverages can vary depending on such factors as how and where the coffee beans and tea leaves were grown and processed and how the beverage product is prepared.

For reference, a 12 ounce can of a caffeinated soft drink typically contains 30 to 40 milligrams of caffeine, an 8-ounce cup of green or black tea 30-50 milligrams, and an 8-ounce cup of coffee closer to 80 to 100 milligrams. Caffeine in energy drinks can range from 40-250 mg per 8 fluid ounces.

3. If a coffee or tea says “decaffeinated,” does that mean it contains no caffeine?

No. Decaf coffees and teas have less caffeine than their regular counterparts, but they still contain some caffeine. For example, decaf coffee typically has 2-15 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup. If you react strongly to caffeine in a negative way, you may want to avoid these beverages altogether.

4. How much caffeine is too much?

For healthy adults, the FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day—that's about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. However, there is wide variation in both how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine and how fast they metabolize it (break it down).

Certain conditions tend to make people more sensitive to caffeine’s effects, as can some medications. In addition, if you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, or are concerned about another condition or medication, we recommend talking to your health care provider about whether you need to limit caffeine consumption.

The FDA has not set a level for children, but the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants by children and adolescents.

5. How do you know if you’ve consumed more caffeine than you can tolerate?

Over-consuming caffeine can cause:

  • insomnia
  • jitters
  • anxiousness
  • fast heart rate
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • headache
  • a feeling of unhappiness (dysphoria)

6. Does caffeine pose a danger to your health?

The FDA estimates toxic effects, like seizures, can be observed with rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine, or 0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine.

Pure and highly concentrated caffeine products present a significant public health threat and have contributed to at least two deaths in the United States in the last few years. (In April, the FDA took action to protect consumers from these products.)

These products, often labeled as dietary supplements, consist of pure or highly concentrated caffeine in powder or liquid forms and are often marketed in bulk packaging with up to thousands of servings per container, requiring the consumer to measure out a safe serving from what can be a toxic or even lethal amount of bulk product.

The risk of caffeine overdose increases as the concentration of caffeine in the product increases, meaning even small dosages of a highly concentrated product could lead to dangerous effects. Just one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine can contain the same amount of caffeine as 28 cups of coffee, and a half cup of a liquid highly concentrated caffeine product contains the equivalent of more than 20 cups of coffee. These are toxic amounts that can have serious health consequences, including death.

7. Is it okay for kids to consume caffeine?

We recommend you consult with your health care provider for advice regarding your child’s caffeine consumption.

8. Is drinking a lot of caffeine a substitute for sleep?

No. Caffeine is a stimulant, which may cause you to be more alert and awake, but it is not a substitute for sleep. Typically, it can take 4 to 6 hours for your body to metabolize half of what you consumed. So, a cup of coffee at dinner may keep you awake at bedtime.

9. How can I cut back on caffeine without causing unpleasant side effects?

If you’re used to drinking caffeine-containing beverages every day, and want to cut back, it’s best to do so gradually. Stopping abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, and nervousness. Unlike opioid or alcohol withdrawal, caffeine withdrawal is not considered dangerous, but it can be unpleasant. You may want to talk to your health care provider about how to cut back.

  • Content current as of:


5 Experts Answer: Is Caffeine Bad for Kids?

Each week, MyHealthNewsDaily asks the experts to answer questions about your health. This week, we asked doctors: Does caffeine harm kids?

Roberta Anding, Registered Dietitian, director of sports nutrition at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and member of the Baylor College of Medicine Faculty:

Yes. There was actually a position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in May this year. There are all these new energy drinks, and the position paper said these kinds of products and high caffeine loads are not appropriate for children.

A study that came out in December 2010 in the journal Pediatrics found that 75 percent of children consume caffeine on a daily basis, and the more caffeine children consumed, the less they slept. Caffeine impacts slept, but this study showed that the old wives tale that it causes bedwetting wasn't substantiated.

There's also some evidence to suggest that if you have a child who already has an anxiety disorder, the effects of caffeine make it worse.

The other concern that I see is how parents equate sports drinks and energy drinks as the same thing. Often time the energy drinks often have significantly higher amounts of caffeine than soda.


Dr. Marcie Schneider, adolescent medicine physician and former member of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on nutrition:

It is bad.

Caffeine is absorbed in every body tissue. It increases your heart rate and it increases your blood pressure. Caffeine changes your body temperature and your gastric juices. It changes how attentive you are, and can really cause trouble in terms of sleep.

Then there's moods. For some people, caffeine enhances their moods. For others it makes it worse. For kids who have some anxiety, and it may even be under control in normal conditions, caffeine can really increase anxiety.

Caffeine is a stimulant, and therefore it may change their appetite. Adolescents gain half of their adult weight in their teenage years. If caffeine curbs their appetite in some way it could affect their growth. 

A lot of the issue for kids is all the energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster. These drinks are full of other components. There's guarana, which is a plant extract and each gram of guarana is equal to 40 milligrams of caffeine as a stimulant. There's another protein called taurine, which potentiates the effect of caffeine.


 Dr. Nicole Caldwell, assistant professor of pediatrics, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

It's not really good for them. As far as the FDA goes, there are no current guidelines for caffeine consumption.

But the Canadian government has some guidelines. For children aged 4-6 years, the maximum recommended intake is 45 milligrams a day — about as much caffeine as found in a 12-ounce Diet Coke.

Caffeine affects the central nervous system as a stimulant. The brains of a child tend to be a little bit more sensitive to caffeine's effects than the brains of adults. Caffeine can cause them to be hyperactive, which is obvious. But it also can make them nervous, anxious, worsen stomach problems and create sleep problems.

Also if they have an undiagnosed arrhythmia, an irregular or abnormal heartbeat, caffeine increases excitability within the heart, which can exacerbate the arrhythmia.

Caffeine also constricts blood vessels. It takes 4 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight to increase blood pressure.

The evidence doesn't show that caffeine stunts growth. But if kids are drinking soda, even caffeinated tea throughout the day, they may not be taking in the amount of calcium they need.

Also, if your child is drinking a can of caffeinated soda, they are also taking in a lot of sugar, which has the second effect of tooth decay, and the growing issue of childhood obesity.


Ann Condon-Meyers, a registered dietitian at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Yes. It's a stimulant, so it's a drug.

The amount a child weighs changes the dose-response. In other words, a 60-pound child could handle 60 milligrams of caffeine in 24 hours. The problem with that is one Mountain Dew has 50 milligrams, and so does 8 ounces of most energy drinks.

Side effects include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure increased anxiety and decreased ability to sleep. They will suffer withdrawal effects just like adults if they don't have it, at the very least a headache.

To exacerbate the problem of these caffeinated drinks is the fact that many of them are in high in sugar. That's poor nutrition. When you have a kid who is drinking more than one sugary drink a day, it's a set-up for obesity.

The earlier your obesity begins in childhood, the more likely it is to follow you in adulthood. And drinking sugary caffeinated drinks is habit forming. I really fault the beverage industry for marketing to children. I think they're very clever to put caffeine in a drink because it's habit forming and it's a drug.


Dr. Matthew Keefer, General Pediatrician at Children's Hospital Los Angeles

I would say at best it's no harm, at worse, it can cause a lot of side effects that aren't necessary. Certainly, young children don't need any caffeine at all. If an older child has a cup of coffee or a soda every once and a while it's not a big deal.

But when it comes to energy drinks, there's no role for them in pediatrics. If you're using these for working out or to enhance athletic promise, it's not a drug for that.

What happens is some kids use them in replacement of good hydration, which is worse. Caffeine can cause you to lose more water.

We do use caffeine in young infants if they're having trouble remembering to breathe. Occasionally it's used for some people with migraine headaches, but beyond that, there's no medical use really.

There's a reason why caffeine in the form of coffee is one of the highly subsidized corporate perks. It keeps people alert and working. But it's a problem if you're talking about teenagers who need a lot of sleep. They probably need a good 8 plus or 10 hours a night, and teenagers as whole tend to get a lot less sleep. Many use caffeine to stay awake, and using a drug to make up for a deficit and it isn't good. 

Lauren Cox is a contributing writer for Live Science. She writes health and technology features, covers emerging science and specializes in news of the weird. Her work has previously appeared online at ABC News, Technology Review and Popular Mechanics. Lauren loves molecules, literature, black coffee, big dogs and climbing up mountains in her spare time. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Smith College and a master of science degree in science journalism from Boston University.

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