For one reason or another coffee has always been regarded as a beverage for adults. But given the youthful and trendy way coffee is being advertised and marketed today, an inevitable question crops up – should kids enjoy it, too?
You’re shopping at your favorite supermarket and you decide to have an espresso at the café area. Your 14 year old boy says “Mom, can I have one too?”
What do you say? How do you respond? Your natural instinct starts going nuts. Will the caffeine make him over-active? Will it stunt his growth? What will the other moms say if they see me giving my young, short-haired son a cup of espresso. What, in the first place, is the right age for anybody to take coffee?
Nowadays, coffee comes in an overwhelming multitude of varieties, flavors and concoctions, many of them with strong appetite appeal, attracting the attention and interest of our kids. As if to confirm this, the National Coffee Association of America says it’s the young folks who comprise the fastest-growing age segment of coffee buffs (Source: Reuters).
There seems to be no running away from it.These yummy-looking, delectable coffee drinks are all around us. Coffee shops are popping up in supermarkets, libraries and book stores apart from those fashionable coffee chains that you’ll find in most urban areas. Many fast food outlets and the donut chains have all gotten into the trend as well, offering innovative coffee-based drinks. These are topped with whipped cream and swirled with honey or chocolate syrup making them look more like milkshakes rather than coffee.
Naturally, they stir up the appetites of teenagers and young kids. When TV ads appear with the message that everybody needs a boost to go through our busy day and that coffee’s got the right jolt, it’s could easy to fall into the trap.
But is it ok for a high-school student to take coffee to perk up his day and stay up for the final exams? Is it ok for these kids to have mocha latte’s so they’d look sophisticated among friends without causing any health concerns?
Is Coffee Really Harmful To Kids?
We know coffee doesn’t hinder children’s natural growth. Too much caffeine, though, can lead to symptoms of hyperactivity, anxiety, insomnia and sometimes irregular heartbeat.
So When Is Too Much Too Much?
For adults the mayo clinic says it shouldn’t be more than 200-300 milligrams (about 2-3 average-sized cups) of coffee per day. The us has no official figures regarding daily amounts for kids. Health Canada though suggests that teen-agers with 110 pound weight shouldn’t take in more than 125 milligrams of caffeine a day. The equation is 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per day per kilogram of body weight. The younger ones, 10-12 years old should take no more than 85 milligrams per day. As a reference, one should know that coffee beverages generally contain about 150 milligrams of caffeine. ( Source : Mayo Clinic)
What To Do
So what do you do about your 14 year old asking for an espresso? Moderation is the operative word. Keep in mind all the sources of caffeine (sodas, tea, chocolate, etc.) In your kid’s diet and ensure he’s not getting more than what the experts say he should. Go for the smaller size, not the jumbo sizes. And remember…no coffee less than 6 hours before going to bed. Get your kids to be responsible coffee drinkers. They’ll end up being healthy and happy.