Besides adding to childhood obesity, a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows 75% of children aged 5 to 12 consume caffeine and it may be keeping them up at one night. And what is the primary source of their caffeine? You guessed it – soda. And the more caffeine the children had, the less they slept.
“I would suggest that parents simply be prudent and regulate the amount of caffeine their children consume,” says study author William J. Warzak, PhD, a professor of psychology in the department of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical in Omaha. “They will not be the worse for wear if their caffeine consumption is restricted,” he says. The caffeine in the children’s diet came mainly from soft drinks.
So what is a moderate amount of caffeine in a 5-year-old or 10-year-old? “I don’t think we know the answer to that question,” he says.
“Most of the research into the health effects of caffeine has been with adults [and] there really is very little pertaining to children,” he says. “The FDA has not established recommended amounts of caffeine consumption in children, although the Canadian government has issued such guidelines and our respondents indicated that quite a few children push those limits.”
Avram Traum, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, tells WebMD.com that the amount of caffeine children consumed in this and other studies is “shocking, staggering, and disturbing.”
Other Reasons To Keep Your Kids Away From Soda:
The new study looked at how caffeine may affect sleep and bed-wetting, but drinking so much soda may also have an effect on obesity and diseases associated with obesity, including high blood pressure in children, he says.
“There is no reason that school-aged children need caffeine. Period,” he says. The occasional cup of soda on a special occasion is OK, but children should not drink caffeine on a daily basis.
“Sodas are junk food and have no nutritional value,” says Charles Shubin, MD, director of pediatrics at Mercy FamilyCare, a division of Family Health Centers of Baltimore.
Ihuoma U. Eneli, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is surprised at the amount of caffeine that children in the new study took in.
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