Caffeine and Teenagers: What's the Limit?
Caffeine can be found in many foods
Coffee shops are a great study location, but...
It's easy to keep track
Where I'm Coming From:
To preface this article, let me say that I love caffeine. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, I really do enjoy them.
I grew up as a hardcore/heavy metal drummer, so I am quite accustomed to "Megatour -- sponsored by Monster Energy Drinks", "Musicapalooza - sponsored by Pepsi", and the various corporate sponsorships of of youth events (non-alcohol related for the <21 crowd).
As a youth, I would drink at least 2 energy drinks per day, as well coffee and diet pop. One before school, one before band practice, one before soccer practice, etc...
Push To Excel
The United States is not in its best shape right now. We have to figure out ways to get our teenagers in school to first of all attend school (truancy). Next, they have to study math, science, business, language and technology longer and longer to "keep up with the rest of the world". We want them with an interest in sports to become Lebron James, Peyton Manning, or Lionel Messi or basically die trying. They have to get great grades AND have an amazing portfolio of non-profit or extracurricular activities at the same time.
Caffeine really does bring mental focus, heightened energy and alertness, and the energy drinks sold today are stocked full of vitamins and other health boosters to help your body extend itself and overcome physical stamina issues.
Coffee shops are a wonderful place to meet and be social for suburban and urban students. There are tables for groups to meet and study, plenty of wifi, and often longer hours than a library or community center or anywhere else safe for a kid to go. In Chicago, there are a few 24 hour coffee shops which cater to students staying up writing papers or studying for exams, with plenty of delicious lattes, while any type of student center often closes early each night.
Marketed at Teenagers
It is pretty easy to figure out that energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages are marketed at boys under the age of 21. I do not need to tell you which demographic "Amp'd", "Monster Assault", "Cocaine energy drink" are targeting.
However, caffeine appears in many other health foods and drinks we consume each day. Many multi-vitamins, diet supplements and pills use caffeine as their dieting agent. Green tea pills, ice cream, lattes, and so forth contain caffeine. Many health bars such as Clif Cool Mint Chocolate contain good amounts of caffeine, as well health waters such as Vitamin Water Drive. Potato chips, shampoo, hand soap, and many other specialty forms of caffeine consumption are making their way into mainstream society now.
Should we care?
In our race to do it all, or push our kids to be their best by encouraging caffeine consumption, we may be causing a number of medical conditions to become manifest in our children as well, such as:
- medical daily addiction to caffeine
According to NPR and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 100 milligrams a day of caffeine is all a person under 18 needs to become addicted and become formed by the drug.
In addition, mixing caffeine with alcohol has produced more and more preventable deaths, with the New York Times link attached as an example.
I haven't made up my mind on this one, but it is interesting for me to research, measure, write about, and maybe get some informed opinions from someone out there?
I sure am enjoying this caffeinated doughnut and Trenta size iced coffee this morning as the calendar turns to June while I write this. Can't wait to get out the frozen Dr. Pepper popsicles and make a go of it!