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Coffee: From the Teen’s View

by Jacob P. | March 19th, 2012 | Teen Perspective
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As a child, I always wanted to drink coffee, but I was always told that it was unhealthy.  Over the last year or so, I have started to drink coffee –  pretty much only on weekends and never  more than two cups a day.  I drink my coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of milk.  Because many people believe coffee is unhealthy for kids, I thought I would debunk some myths, and support other ones.

To help clarify some of the data provided below, there are about 110 milligrams of caffeine in a brewed cup of coffee.

  • Coffee stunts growth.  This is a popular myth about coffee and also the number one reason why I was always told I couldn’t have coffee.  Well, it is not true.  There is no scientific proof that coffee consumption reduces growth.  Also, it is believed that coffee reduces bone density in teens.  Studies tracking the bone density of teens who consumed coffee, compared to those who did not, found that they had equal bone density, provided that they consumed equal amounts of calcium.
  • Coffee will cause weight gain.  Also not true.  It’s the stuff you put in it.  The first time I ever had coffee, I loaded it with sugar and cream.  Many kids may do this, because they do not like the flavor — so keep track of what they put in it.
  •  Coffee causes hyperactivity.  Well…, yes and no.  According to studies, a moderate amount of  caffeine (40-200 milligrams) will not cause hyperactivity.  I think this is true for some children, but not true for others.  The studies said that this will cause an increase in energy; well, for some kids, that makes them hyperactive.  I do not usually feel the effects of caffeine, but I know kids and teens who obviously do.  When it comes to kids with ADHD, it definitely has an effect, in my experience.  I have a friend with ADHD, and one day, he consumed a bottle of Mountain Dew.  He was literally twitching.  Also, giving kids coffee later in the day will make it harder for them to fall asleep.
  • Coffee is addictive.  Once again, yes and no.  According to the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, coffee is a mild stimulant, but it is not addictive.  Rather, it causes dependence.  Still, dependence means  headaches, irritability, etc. if you stop drinking it, so it as some addiction-like effects.  By the definition of what most people consider an addiction, coffee is addictive.
  • Coffee causes dehydration.  This is completely true.  Caffeine is a mild diuretic.  This means that it gives drinkers the urge to urinate.  This causes ends up causing dehydration.  Also, coffee is a mild laxative.

Taking all of this into consideration, coffee is not necessarily unhealthy for children.  Still, it should be limited, because it can have some negative side effects if consumed in abundance, or at least has the potential to make your life hellish.  I, personally, would avoid giving coffee to small kids, because if I wanted small animals bouncing off the walls, I would get a pet squirrel and give him crystal meth.  But that’s just my opinion.

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