Caffeine seems to have its own language: How else can you explain "triple venti no foam" to an onlooker? A new study finds that kids are increasingly fluent in the language of coffee.
About three out of four kids consume caffeine on any given day. A new study published in the March issue of "Pediatrics" has found that, while the number of kids consuming caffeine did not increase from 1999 to 2010, their caffeinated beverages of choice changed.
Coffee made up just 10 percent of kids' caffeine in 1999, but that number rose to almost 24 percent in 2010. Soda is still the biggest choice for kids' caffeine, but its popularity is dropping: from 62 percent of caffeine intake in 1999 to just 38 percent in 2010.
Soda's slide down the popularity ladder isn't too surprising: An increasing focus on sugary beverages and their effect on obesity has placed sodas under the nutritional microscope. Energy drinks may be another factor as well. They weren't popular enough to register in the study's first year but by 2010, they made up 6 percent of a child's caffeine from drinks.
The concern with energy drinks is that they deliver significantly more caffeine per ounce than coffee or soda, said Peggy Kinamore, public education coordinator of the Missouri Poison Center. Kids should have less than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day; some energy drinks can deliver as much as 80 milligrams in an 8-ounce beverage.
"When kids get more than the recommended amount of caffeine, they get agitated," Kinamore said. "They can get an upset stomach, little tremors in their hands, difficulty sleeping and staying asleep. What really concerns us is that they can actually experience high blood pressure and heart palpitations. They'll describe it as feeling like their heart is going to beat out of their chest."
Parents may not be able to eliminate all added caffeine from a child's diet, but parents can read labels and have greater awareness of caffeine content. Kinamore recommends that parents read labels closely and know that caffeine content can be disguised in other caffeine-containing ingredients like chocolate, ice cream and non-cola sodas. Parents can also educate their children that caffeine is a drug and that using too much will make them sick.