Teens May Have a Dangerous Caffeine Habit

Posted 04/05/2016 | By HealthCorps

A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior suggests that teens need more education when it comes to caffeine and its potential downside.

Most people don’t realize that caffeine is actually a drug. It’s easily accessible and it’s also acceptable but caffeine can have some rather negative health impacts when consumed in too high doses. Caffeine also happens to be in a number of beverages that teens regularly drink. Coffee is probably the number one source of caffeine for most teens, but teas, sodas and especially energy drinks can add to the daily tally of teen caffeine consumption.

A 400 mg daily dose of caffeine is considered the safe upper limit for most adults. That can equal two to four cups of coffee (depending on the cup size), about ten cans of cola, or two energy drinks. Expresso typically has less caffeine per serving size. Consuming more than 600 mg a day is considered “heavier use” and can cause symptoms like nervousness, sleep issues, feeling jittery, having a heightened heart rate, gastrointestinal discomfort and anxiety. When it comes to kids and teens, doses of 100-400 mg a day can instigate some of these symptoms. Prior to this new study, data from research has shown that teens are consuming, on average, between 50-800 mg of caffeine daily.

In this new study out of Canada, 166 subjects, male and female from grades nine and ten participated in 20 discussion groups and also answered several questionnaires. Some of the findings:

• 44.6% of respondents drank caffeinated beverages one to six times per week
• 11.4% consumed a caffeinated beverage daily
• 4.8% never consumed drinks containing caffeine
• Most said that they consumed caffeinated drinks for alertness and to help them to study better

From parents drinking coffee daily and often offering it to their kids, to media and advertising on TV and at sports events, coffee is easy to get and is a habit that is actually encouraged. The problem is that teens are getting it from a variety of beverages and they are not tracking the amounts being consumed from morning till night. Caffeine can interfere with healthy sleep patterns. Experts warn that caffeine intoxication is a real health danger, and it can happen even at moderate levels under certain circumstances. Teens need to realize that there are other ways to boost their energy levels, including a healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercising. Education strategies can also help teens to realize just how much caffeine they may be getting from drink and food.

Source: Medical News Today

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