If a 60-pound child drinks a 12-ounce can of cola, it is the same surge as a 175-pound man drinking eight cups of coffee. Studies show that children who do not usually have caffeine become restless and inattentive when given just two sodas a day.
"It could create jitteryness. It could create excitement," says nutritionist Dr. Gail Frank. "Many parents complain my kids don't want to go to sleep at night. Well, the issue is they haven't stopped to think how much caffeine is in a taste of coffee or tea. It's the caffeine that's keeping them awake."
However, experts do not really know what effect caffeine has on growth and development. This generation of kids is the first one growing up hooked on caffeine.
"The curve has not been continued. We've not followed kids because this has just been a phenomenon the last 10 years or so," Frank says.
Iced tea usually has less caffeine than sodas but it still needs to be an occasional treat for kids, not an everyday thing. In addition, teens are gulping down coffees from coffee houses at an alarming rate. Not only are they getting a hefty dose of caffeine, but hundreds of empty calories from creams, chocolate and other flavors added to the drinks.
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