Caffeine and kids
If you’ve ever been inclined to blame sugary party junk food as the culprit for hyped up party attendees, think again. It may well be the soft drinks that have been served – and not necessarily anything red.
American researchers recently released a study on the effects of caffeine on teenagers and their weekly sleep patterns. It’s easy to forget that caffeine is a stimulant found in many beverages, not just coffee.
Excessive caffeine was found to have ill effects on students’ health, causing interrupted sleep, headaches, stomach aches and an energy see-saw effect, with a energy high followed by an energy crash. The students had increased caffeine in the second half of the week and this was associated with soft drink vending machines available at school.
If a cup of instant coffee has between 60-80 mgs per 250 mls (I cup), then by comparison a 375 ml can of a cola soft drink such as Coke has 48.75 mg* ie about half that of a cup of a coffee.
The research has trickle-down ramifications for younger children as children have a smaller body mass, meaning a greater effect of caffeine on their system.
Not only that but caffeine is a diuretic, meaning loss of body fluids by extra trips to the toilet. Persistent bedwetters should therefore not have any soft drinks for some hours before bedtime. And as caffeine also takes about 6 hours to pass through the body, a party that finishes at four may party on in your child until ten at night!
*Source: Food Standards Australia - Caffeine
The information provided in this article is intended as a guide only. Always consult your doctor if you or your child is suffering any medical complaint. Any websites referred to by Australian Family contain information moderated by government and medical institutions or organisations.
This article was first published in Australian Family Magazine, November 2003. Updated July 2009.