Especially in young kids, it doesn't take a lot of caffeine to produce these effects.
What Other Problems Can Happen?
Here are some other reasons to limit kids' caffeine consumption:
Kids often drink caffeine contained in regular soft drinks. Kids who drink one
or more sweetened soft drink per day are 60% more likely to be obese.
Caffeinated drinks often contain empty calories, and kids who fill up on them
don't get the vitamins and minerals they need from healthy sources. Too much soda
can mean missing the calcium kids need
from milk to build strong bones and
Too many sweetened caffeinated drinks could lead to dental cavities from the high
sugar content and the erosion of tooth enamel from acidity.
Caffeine is a diuretic that causes the body to eliminate water (through peeing),
which may contribute to dehydration.
It's wise to avoid excessive caffeine in hot weather, when kids need to replace fluids
lost through sweating.
Abruptly stopping caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms (like headaches, muscle
aches, and irritability), especially for those who consume a lot of it.
Caffeine can make heart problems or nervous disorders worse, and some kids might
not know that they're at risk.
What Is Caffeine Sensitivity?
Caffeine sensitivity refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce an effect
in someone. On average, the smaller the person, the less caffeine necessary to produce
side effects. However, caffeine sensitivity is most affected by daily caffeine intake.
People who regularly drink beverages containing caffeine soon develop a reduced
sensitivity to it. This means they need higher doses of caffeine to achieve the same
effects as someone who doesn't drink caffeinated drinks often. So, the more caffeine
kids take in, the more caffeine they'll need to feel the same effects. In general,
kids are more sensitive to caffeine than adults and can feel its effects for up to
What Foods and Drinks Have Caffeine?
Caffeine is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of many plants. It's also
made artificially and added to certain foods. Kids get most of their caffeine from
sodas, but it's also found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt,
as well as pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines. Even iced tea can
contain as much sugar and caffeine as soda.
Here's how some sources of caffeine compare:
Amount of Caffeine
Jolt soft drink
brewed coffee (drip method)
chocolate milk beverage
cold relief medicine
*average amount of caffeine
Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Soft Drink Association
How Can We Cut Back On Caffeine?
Can you keep kids caffeine-free? Absolutely! The best way to cut caffeine (and
added sugar) is to eliminate soda. Instead, offer water, milk, or flavored seltzer;
you also can serve 100% fruit juice in small amounts. You can still allow the occasional
soda or tea — just make it decaffeinated. Watch for hidden caffeine by checking
the ingredient list on foods and beverages.
The best way to reduce caffeine intake is to cut back slowly. Otherwise, kids (and
adults) could get headaches and feel achy, depressed, or just downright lousy.
Someone cutting back on caffeine may feel tired. The best bet is to hit the sack,
not the sodas: It's just a body's way of saying that more rest is needed. Don't worry
— energy levels will return to normal in a few days.
As with everything, moderation is the key to keeping your kids' caffeine consumption