Coffee is the reason many adults wake up in the morning, but is it OK for kids to get their daily fix in, too?
With all the delicious high-sugar and fat drinks at coffee shops, kids are drinking more coffee than ever before, not to mention the caffeine intake from other sources like soda and energy drinks: 73 percent of kids claim that they drink caffeine on a given day, according to data gathered by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Coffee accounts for 24 percent of that caffeine intake in kids. That’s way more than you probably would have guessed, but soda consumption in kids has dropped while coffee and
energy drinks are on the rise. Teens’ coffee consumption jumped 60 percent from 2014 to 2017, with 35 percent of teens getting their java on.
Should they be drinking coffee, though? Per an old wives' tale, won't it stunt their growth, robbing them of their full height potential someday? In short, no, coffee has no relation to height in kids, even
if they are regular drinkers. It’s still not a good idea, though, mostly because of
the caffeine more than anything else.
Caffeine has not been thoroughly studied in children, so no
one knows a safe amount they can consume. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and in large amounts, it can cause anxiety, dizziness and sleep
disturbances. More than four cups a day were associated with high blood
pressure and heart arrhythmia in a study from the Journal of American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Caffeine in large amounts (200 to 400 mg, or about two to four cups) could even be lethal in children, not to mention highly addictive, causing headaches and fatigue during withdrawal.
Kids shouldn’t be regular caffeine
imbibers, nor should they be pounding back lattes like Mom and Dad (do as I
say, not as I do!).
Where did this concern even come from? No one knows for
sure, but it seems to possibly be related to osteoporosis and bone density,
which was linked to diets lacking in calcium. The most popular way to get kids
to get their daily calcium requirements was to push milk. It was probably easier to wave
off coffee-hungry children and point them towards cow’s milk with the
reasoning that “it stunts your growth.” It's a misrepresentation of the actual issue, but
a way to keep the youths off the beans just the same.
You want something to blame being short on? Check the likely culprit: DNA, not the morning joe. Your petiteness wasn't due to any coffee you snuck as a child. Still, try to get your kids to hold off on becoming habitual coffee drinkers. Just because it didn't affect their height doesn't mean it's a smart thing to do.
TL;DR: Kids shouldn’t drink lots of coffee, not because it
will make them short, but because caffeine is too harsh on immature nervous
systems. They’ll have plenty of time to become caffeine hounds when they grow