Kids and caffeine: An unhealthy combination?

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Kids and caffeine: An unhealthy combination?

Question

Is it OK for children to have caffeinated soda once in a while?

Tom
Kentucky

Answer

Most pediatricians discourage caffeine consumption in kids. However, an occasional caffeinated beverage probably isn't harmful.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep and cause nervousness and irritability. Because of their small body size, children are more susceptible to these effects than adults are.

One of the major sources of caffeine in children's diets is caffeinated soda. The main thing soda affects is the amount of calcium children get. In general, the more soda children drink, the less milk they drink and the less calcium they take in. Another thing to consider is that drinking carbonated soda — even when sugar-free — increases a child's risk of tooth decay.

It's probably unrealistic to insist that your children never have caffeine. Caffeine is found in many foods, including chocolate. Instead, offer your children beverages that contribute to a well-balanced diet, such as milk and fruit or vegetable juice. Water is another excellent choice. Also, steer kids away from "super-caffeinated" beverages, which contain about three times the caffeine as regular soda.

Last Updated: 05/25/2005
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