Stroll down King Street in Historic St. Augustine and you will see crowds around the beautiful Casa Monica Hotel Cafe. Why? Many are enjoying their cup of java! Whether it is hot cocoa, coffee, tea or a specialty drink such as a frappuccino, people love to gather and simply sip and socialize. Especially teens are getting into this trend!
Adult coffee drinkers are most likely already familiar with the potential side effects of its consumption, particularly the caffeinated variety. American culture has historically viewed coffee primarily as an adult beverage; most parents discourage their children from drinking coffee.
The risks to kids, as it turns out, are really no different than those of adults, except that children are less likely to make the kind of lifestyle or dietary adjustments that would help mitigate them.
Here are 10 reasons why kids shouldn’t drink coffee.
- Caffeine as an appetite suppressant. – Most adults are aware of caffeine’s effect on their appetites; in fact some drink it for that very reason, as a weight control measure. Children, whose nutritional intake is essential to their growth and health, risk losing valuable nutrients in favor of empty calories.
- Caffeine as a stimulant. – It’s hardly necessary to give the average kid a jolt of additional energy. It’s naturally there in more than adequate supply; and coffee is not going to get them to run wind sprints rather than play video games, sorry to say. The caffeine will more likely cause unwanted side effects, like jitters and irritability.
- Caffeine as an addictive substance. – Coffee consumption can lead to a dependence on its caffeine content, causing similar symptoms as above, and withdrawal.
- Caffeine’s side effects. – Some potential short-term side effects of caffeine consumption are: high blood pressure, heartburn, stomach problems, and headaches.
- Coffee stains teeth. – Here again is a side effect associated with coffee drinking that most adults are both aware of, and capable of addressing through hygienic counter-measures. Kids, however, have enough issues with just basic dental care.
- Coffee as a beverage. – Because most kids will be getting caffeine from other sources, such as soft drinks, they are more susceptible to experiencing these side effects.
- Added Ingredients – Apart from caffeine, the sugar and fat from common preferred additives like sweeteners, milk and whipped cream pose health issues to your child.
- Sleep Disruption – Because it’s a stimulant, the caffeine in coffee can cause difficulty getting proper bed rest for a child. Inadequate sleep leads to myriad other health issues.
- Cost – Energy drinks are expensive enough as a beverage of choice for youngster. If they switch to frappuccinos, espressos and lattes, your kids could be spending the equivalent of a full semester of college tuition on a caffeine fix before long.
- Organized Labor – And finally this: Once your kids have gotten a taste for coffee, the next thing you know, they’ll be negotiating for coffee breaks every fifteen minutes when they do their chores.
The bottom line is that coffee, as with many things in life, can be beneficial in moderation. It’s been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver cancer, among other things. Coffee’s main risk is in the caffeine, so decaf may be an option if your child wishes to join the adults in an occasional cup of java.
As a another note, there are parents that found that children with ADHD have benefited from a cup of coffee in the morning. Rather than stimulating them, it has the opposite effect on them. Of course you always check with your pediatrician first.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!