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No Cup of Tea:

Kid’s Consumption of Caffeine Rises

Copyright American Osteopathic Association

Before the invasion of coffeehouses, people seldom requested sprinkles or whipped cream atop their morning java. But today, establishments like Starbucks® have made the traditional breakfast beverage look more like dessert. The inevitable by-product of coffee masquerading as a banana split is the increasing number of children consuming it.

“The short and long-term effect of caffeine on kids’ health is something every parent should take note of,” explains Craig M. Wax, D.O., an osteopathic Family Physician in Mullica Hill, NJ. “Most adults are aware of the fact that caffeine is a stimulus and tends to make children hyperactive, but they don’t recognize the other symptoms.”

In moderate doses, caffeine can cause insomnia, headaches, dizziness, irritability, dehydration and can slow the absorption of calcium, which is needed for strong teeth and bones.

“While coffee is an increasingly seen caffeinated drink by young children today, parents should also pay close attention to other caffeinated beverages like cola, teas and popular energy drinks,” warns Dr. Wax.

Furthermore, the growing market and availability of caffeinated beverages make Americans even more likely to consume them in lieu of other vital fluids necessary to a healthy diet, he explains.  

“Children are choosing cola instead of water, juice and milk. Even though the latter are essential elements of their diets,” says Dr. Wax.

In addition, caffeine acts as a strong diuretic. Consequently, allowing your child a caffeinated drink before bedtime will ensure at least one nighttime trip to the bathroom.

“While studies have shown that caffeine can cause a physical dependence and result in withdrawal symptoms such as headache, fatigue and muscle ache, many parents forget that this substance is a drug,” explains Dr. Wax. “Children who has become accustomed to 3-4 caffeinated drinks per day will have some type of reaction if they’re denied their ‘daily fix.’”

Only a parent can determine how much caffeine is too much for their children, but Dr. Wax advises parents to frequently educate themselves on the caffeine content of their children’s preferred beverage. Also, when investigating caffeine content, bear in mind that manufacturers need only report caffeine that has been added to a product.  For a quick review of the caffeine content in common beverages, refer to the table below.


Total caffeine content (milligrams)

8 oz. Coffee


8 oz. Iced Tea


12 oz. Coca-Cola™


12 oz. Mountain Dew™


8 oz. Sobe™ No Fear


8.5 oz. Red Bull


To keep your children happy and help prevent caffeine addiction, Dr. Wax suggests the following tips:

  • Watch your children’s caffeine intake.  Discourage them from drinking caffeinated beverages.
  • Give your children appealing alternatives. Have water and fresh juices readily available.
  • Don’t try to substitute diet soda for regular.  Diet may have less sugar, but it actually contains more caffeine!
  • If you are a 5-cup a day coffee drinker, remember that your children are watching.

“With over 80 percent of America’s adults consuming caffeine on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that our children have followed suit,” says Dr. Wax.  “As parents it’s up to you to set the example for your kids.”

Preventive medicine is just one element of the spectrum of care that osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) provide. As complete physicians, D.O.s are able to prescribe medication, perform surgery and can be found practicing in all areas of medicine.  D.O.s can also use their hands to help diagnose and treat injury and illness and to encourage the body’s natural tendency toward good health through the use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT).  For more information about D.O.s and osteopathic medicine, visit

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
Craig M. Wax, D.O., L.L.C. © 2014 ~ All Rights Reserved