Kids, coffee and soda: What parents need to know

Kids, coffee and soda: What parents need to know

Although parents typically don’t pour a cup of coffee for their children, they may unknowingly be providing their child with the same amount of caffeine with different beverages.

While kids consume most of their caffeine through soda, it’s also found in coffee, tea, chocolate, some ice creams and over-the-counter medicines.

Dr. Asit Vora, a pediatrician from Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., believes that the caffeine intake in children is so high and continuing to grow because more food and drinks containing caffeine are being marketed directly to children, as young as 4 years old to adolescents.

“Coffee drinks, sodas, teas and especially energy drinks have increased the use of caffeine in children and adolescents by 70 percent in the last three decades,” he says. “They are being marketed to increase alertness and are publicized to enhance academic and athletic performance. These claims often confuse consumers, both parents and children, into thinking there is a scientific benefit to these items when there are none.”

In both kids and adults, too much caffeine can cause:

  • Jitteriness and nervousness
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

It takes smaller amounts of caffeine to produce these effects in children, so parents must be mindful of limiting their kids’ consumption. Although there are many negative effects of caffeine consumption, a study found that caffeine doesn’t stunt kids’ growth, which was once a common belief.

A University of Delaware study of 81 girls between 12 and 18 years old focused on the effects of caffeine on bone mineral gain and hipbone density over a six-year period. The girls were placed in groups and were asked to consume between 25 milligrams to more than 50 milligrams of caffeine a day. The results of the study showed that were are no differences in bone health or growth among the girls.

Here are comparisons of caffeine amounts in different products that kids often drink:

Item Amount of Item Amount of Caffeine
Coca-Cola 12 oz. 34.0 mg
Diet Coke 12 oz. 45.0 mg
7-Up 12 oz. 0 mg
Brewed Coffee 5 oz. 115 mg
Ice Tea 12 oz. 70 mg
Chocolate Milk 8 oz. 5 mg
Cold Relief Medication 1 tablet 30 mg

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About the Author

Tiffany Nguyen
Tiffany Nguyen

Tiffany Nguyen, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Support Centers in Downers Grove, IL. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in public health. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration focusing specifically on healthcare management at Lewis University. Tiffany enjoys hanging out with her friends, exploring new restaurants, and binge watching Netflix shows.