Caffeine, the chemical reason for drinking coffee, is a heavily debated subject. It has both benefits and drawbacks in adults, but when it comes to kids, it’s a different story. Children are not only smaller than adults (and so more sensitive to chemicals such as caffeine), they are also ‘under-developed’ (for want of a better word). Their chemistry is different to that of adults, and so coffee can affect them differently. There is a large amount of concern that coffee can have a much more dramatic effect on children than adults, and potentially cause a number of ailments. Here I’ll explore the effects of coffee on kids.
It is a reasonable assumption that children will develop caffeine dependency from a much lower dosage, and with less frequent of consumption than that of an adult. Dependency in adults has
been reported from consumption of as little as 100mg/ day.This is of real concern when you consider that a cup of instant coffee contains around 100mg. The possibility that a child could develop dependency from consuming just 1 cup of coffee on a regular basis is worrying. There is admittedly very little research on child dependency from coffee, and how this can impact their later life.
The lack of research in this area makes it difficult to say how good or bad caffeine is for children with regards to dependency.
A study back in 1994 found that children under the age of 15 years old who regularly consumed more than 2 cups of coffee a day had a significant increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. This study highlights the difference in effect caffeine can have on children and adults, as coffee consumption has been shown to protect against the effects of type 2 diabetes in adults. As type 1 diabetes is irreversible, and associated with a whole host of other diseases including cardiovascular disease, then regularly drinking this much coffee certainly isn’t good for kids.
There is research which has shown that caffeine consumption increases blood pressure in a dose-dependant fashion, (i.e, more caffeine = greater increase in blood pressure) which increases the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). The increase in blood pressure is not long lasting though, and coffee would have to be regularly consumed for this to become a serious concern.
Caffeine is a know inhibitor of nutrients such as iron, which is of particular importance to children during growth. Although one cup here and there is unlikely to significantly impact nutrient absorption, regularly drinking coffee could have a negative impact. The extent of this is of course affected by other dietary/ lifestyle factors, and is not just down to coffee consumption.
Yes, coffee in moderation is good for you, and has demonstrated antioxidant activity and anticarcinogenic activity – both things a modern diet always needs. The question at what dosage this is suitable for kids to be drinking is still unanswered.
From the research I’ve looked at, coffee generally isn’t good for kids to be consuming regularly. The odd cup here and there is unlikely to do any harm, but they probably shouldn’t get into the habit of drinking coffee.
This Youtube video will give an overview of the information found on the article tab. If you want to know more about the topic, or want to see where the information came from, have a read of the article after you watch the video.
Coffee and caffeine are not good for kids.