Kicking your teen's caffeine addiction to the curb
By Erin Dym
on April 23, 2013
If your teen is already addicted to caffeine-laden
drinks like coffee and pop, it might be time
to have “the talk”. Caffeine is the most widely
consumed stimulant in the world. Sure, your
teen might be bigger and taller than you now,
but caffeine consumption is not recommended
for kids or teens because its use could come at
“Teens should not be having caffeine in the
forms of soda, coffee, tea or energy drinks,”
says Simone Finklestein, a nutritionist who
specializes in pediatrics.
She points out that caffeine is addictive
and classified as a drug. It has the effect of
increasing heart rate, causing jitters, insomnia
and upset stomach. Caffeine is also a diuretic,
which increases urine production and can cause
“Besides these side effects, you have to ask
whether consuming these drinks comes at
the expense of healthier drinks kids need, like
water, which is hydrating, and milk, which has
calcium,” says Simone.
If your child is using the stimulant to help
them study for exams and write papers late
into the night, there are a few substitutes you
can suggest. First, encourage your teen to eat a
well-balanced diet and avoid skipping meals.
Adding exercise and suffi cient rest will also give
them the energy boost they need to get through
a schedule packed with projects, socializing and
The trend toward increased caffeine
consumption has recently become more
troublesome. Health Canada says it has
“received a number of reports of suspected
health problems associated with energy drinks.
Symptoms have included irregular hearbeat and
nervousness.” Especially scary is the potential
link between high-energy caffeinated drinks
and three teen deaths in Canada since 2006.
“It’s definitely more common for kids to
consume caffeine these days,” says Simone. “It’s
more readily available in a variety of forms, and
some energy drinks are marketed to younger
adults. In the United States, for example, certain
snack foods are even designed to contain high
levels of caffeine.”
Keep in mind that there is already caffeine in
everyday snacks like chocolate. “It’s important
to explain that if they are having chocolate and
an energy drink, it’s too much,” she says.
Simone recommends some tips for parents
concerned about helping their teen curb their
Take a look at your own caffeine consumption
habits. Too much caffeine isn’t recommended
for adults either. Are you setting a bad example
- Make sure you limit caffeine in the house.
Stock your fridge with healthier items, like milk
or even chocolate milk.
- Talk to your kids about the effects of caffeine
and what a well-balanced diet looks like.
Caffeine by the numbers:
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May/June 2013.
- Energy drink:
By Erin Dym |
April 23, 2013