Your Kids & Caffeine

New reports have been popping up all over news sites and papers: staggering statistics showing that 3 out of every 4 children consume caffeine on a daily basis. They get it from sodas, energy drinks, chocolate… and although your child may not be knocking back cups of joe, they are getting that dose of caffeine most adults claim they cannot start their days without.

Why does this have medical professionals worried?

While caffeine is a helpful pick-me-up when you’re feeling sluggish at 6 AM, it is not something your child should be consuming, let alone on a regular basis. For children, caffeine consumption usually leads to common side effects such as:

  • jitteriness, nervousness and overall hyperactivity
  • upset stomach and headaches
  • difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure

But what health experts are mostly concerned with is the long-term effects of caffeine on your child’s development. Children who take in caffeine are 60% more likely to be obese. Sweet foods and drinks that contain caffeine increase the risk of your child developing cavities and other bone and teeth problems. This is also due to a lack of calcium and other essential nutrients not found in caffeinated beverages. Dehydration and withdrawal symptoms are also associated with caffeine and are detrimental to your child’s healthy development.

How can you help your kids cut caffeine? It’s easier than you’d think! The first step is eliminating these caffeinated products from your home. Replace soda and energy drinks with water, 100% fruit juice, flavored seltzer and milk. Replace the sweet craving for chocolate with fruits, granola and yogurt. While your child might not be immediately thrilled with the change, the adjustment will be a good thing for their development in the long run and will help teach your children how to eat and drink healthy!

Of course, letting your child have the occasional soda or piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing to remember the importance of self control and understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle, but it’s okay to indulge every now and then!

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