Caffeinated foods and drinks are everywhere, but it is wise to minimize caffeine consumption in children, especially the very young.
In both children and adults, excess caffeine can cause the following:
- Stomach ache
- difficult to focus
- difficulty sleeping
- faster heart rate
- higher blood pressure
In young children, not much caffeine is needed to produce these effects.
What Other Problems Can Appear?
Here are other reasons to limit caffeine intake in children:
- Children frequently drink caffeine because it is present in soft drinks (Coca-Cola, etc.). Children who drink one or more sodas per day are 60% more likely to be obese.
- Caffeinated drinks often contain empty calories, and children who fill up on them don’t get the vitamins and minerals they need from healthy sources. Too much soda can lead to missing the calcium that children need for strong bones and teeth .
- Too much sweetened caffeinated beverages can lead to tooth decay from the high sugar content and erode tooth enamel from heartburn.
- Caffeine is advisable to avoid excess caffeine in hot weather, when children need to regain the fluid they lose through sweating.
- Stopping caffeine abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms (such as headaches, muscle aches, and irritability), especially among those who consume a lot of caffeine.
What Is Caffeine Sensitivity?
Sensitivity to caffeine has to do with the amount of caffeine that will have an effect on a person. On average, the smaller the person is, the less caffeine is needed to produce side effects. However, sensitivity to caffeine is greatly affected by daily caffeine intake.
People who regularly drink caffeine-containing beverages quickly develop less sensitivity. This means that they need higher doses of caffeine to obtain the same effects as a person who does not drink caffeinated beverages frequently. Therefore, the more caffeine children eat, the more caffeine they need to feel the same effects. In general, children are more sensitive to caffeine than adults and can feel the effects for up to 6 hours.
What Foods And Drinks Contain Caffeine?
Caffeine occurs naturally in the leaves and seeds of many plants. It is also manufactured artificially and added to certain foods. Children get the most caffeine from soda, but it’s also found in coffee, tea, chocolate, iced coffee, or frozen yogurt, as well as in pain relievers and other over-the-counter medications.