That’s not the set up for a joke, or a scary campfire story. It’s an all-too-common reality. The journal Pediatrics is publishing a study showing that most kids drink caffeine. Even very young kids. They drink a lot of it, too. Five- to seven-year-olds drink about the equivalent of a full can of cola each day. Older kids drink about three times that amount.
They don’t escape caffeine’s side effects, either. Their sleep is impacted, with kids being shorted on sleep because they’re too wired to fall asleep early enough.
Most of the caffeine comes to the kids through soft drinks, which are also loaded with sugar and empty calories. They’re a bad deal all around.
U.S News offers three tips for cutting back on your kids’ caffeine consumption:
- Take soft drinks off the menu, at home and in restaurants. They’re bad nutritional choices, and many contain caffeine.
- Beware of hidden caffeine. Many orange sodas have caffeine, but you’d never guess it from the taste. Indeed, not all caffeinated drinks are brown. One can of Mountain Dew has 55 mg of caffeine, which beats the amount in a can of Coke or Pepsi.
- Explain that energy drinks aren’t the right kind of energy for kids. A 16-ounce Arizona Green Tea Energy has 200 mg of caffeine; that’s four Cokes! Clearly this green tea is not a healthy choice.
These are great tips, but it’s a little disturbing that they’re necessary. Does any parent really need to be told not to give their kindergartner caffeine? Keeping it away from little kids seems like basic self-defense, as well as good childcare. Kids are naturally wired. They don’t need any help.
Still 75% of parents in the study admitted their kids drink caffeinated drinks nearly every day. I’d be in that other 25%. My husband and I enjoy the ocassional cup of coffee, but we treat it as a “grown-up drink” that is just not for kids. Is that so hard to do?
Do your kids drink caffeine? Do you think its important that they don’t?