Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Caffeine, whether consumed in sweet coffee drinks, energy drinks, or sodas, can have serious negative health effects on children and young teens, including high blood pressure and risk of heart disease. More from Today.com:
Even low doses of caffeine — equivalent to what you’d find in a half to a full can of soda or a cup of coffee — had an effect on kids’ blood pressure and heart rates.
And, interestingly, researchers found that the stimulant had more potent heart and blood pressure effects in boys than girls after puberty. The results were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
It’s those kinds of cardiovascular effects that most worry experts, with some going so far as to say that they think caffeinated drinks should be eschewed until children hit their late teens.
“There are lots of things we can’t do because we’re not old enough or mature enough,” said Dr. Kevin Shannon, a professor of pediatric cardiology and director of pediatric arrhythmia at the Mattel Children’s Hospital of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Caffeine should probably be added to that list.”
The new study examined the effects of low doses of caffeine in 52 children aged 8-9 and 49 children aged 15-17. In the younger kids, gender made no difference. But in the older group, the stimulant’s effects were felt more strongly by the boys.
Caffeine slowed heart rates and increased blood pressure in all the children. Though the slowed heart rate might sound counterintuitive, it’s not a new finding, said the study’s lead author Jennifer Temple, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
At low doses the heart slows down to compensate for rising blood pressure, Temple explained. At higher doses, the heart speeds up.
“This study shows that what we would consider to be a low dose of caffeine — what some might not think twice about giving to an 8-year-old — is having an effect on the cardiovascular system,” Temple said. “And right now we don’t have enough data in kids to know what the long term effects of repeated exposure to caffeine would be.”
Image: Frozen coffee drink, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
The good news for parents who are concerned that kids consume too much sugar in the form of soda is that kids are drinking less of those carbonated beverages. The bad news, though, is that coffee drinks and energy drinks–also packed with calories and caffeine–are replacing soda as the top choice for U.S. kids. More from Time.com on a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics:
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…[R]esearchers looked at trends in caffeine intake among people ages 2 to 22 between 1999 to 2010. They found that in 1999, 62 percent of kids and young adults got most of their caffeine from soda. But in 2010, that number dropped significantly to 38 percent.
Energy drinks were not a factor at the beginning of the study, but between 2009 to 2010, they rose to 6 percent of caffeine intake among young people. Coffee also made a jump, from 10 percent of caffeine intake in 1999-2000 to about 24 percent in 2009-2010.
Overall during the time period, researchers found that 73 percent of young people consumed some caffeine on a given day. Even more startling was the fact that 63 percent of kids aged between 2 and 5 consumed caffeine.
The researchers speculated that increased awareness over the link between soda and obesity could be one of the reasons fewer young people are guzzling sodas. But any increase in energy drink consumption among youth is concerning, given that high levels of caffeine can have a greater impact on smaller bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics says energy drinks “should never be consumed by children or adolescents.”
Monday, August 19th, 2013
A new study suggests that the more soda kids drink, the more likely they are to experience behavior problems.
Researchers analyzed data on nearly 3,000 5-year-olds from 20 large U.S. cities. Their mothers completed checklists about the children’s behaviors over the previous two months, and also told scientists about the children’s habits, such as their diets and how much TV they watched, explains the study’s lead author, Shakira Suglia, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Here’s more from Reuters.com:
Aggressive behavior was measured on a scale between 0 and 100—with higher scores indicating more aggression. Suglia said the average score is 50, and 65 is usually used as a clinical marker of when children should be evaluated for a problem.
Kids who reportedly drank no soda scored 56 on the aggression scale, on average. That compared to 57 among kids who drank one serving per day, 58 among those who drank two servings, 59 among those who drank three servings and 62 for four soda servings or more per day.
After taking into account habits that may have influenced the results—such as how much TV the kids watched, how much candy they ate and their mother’s race and education—the researchers still found that drinking two or four or more servings of soda per day was tied to higher aggression scores.
Overall, kids who drank four or more servings of soda per day were twice as likely to destroy other people’s belongings, get into fights and physically attack people, compared to children who didn’t drink soda.
Soda drinkers also scored higher on scales measuring signs of withdrawal and attention problems, write the researchers in The Journal of Pediatrics.
Little boy drinking soda, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Children as young as five are at a heightened risk of being obese if they regularly drink sugary beverages such as sodas, juices, and sports drinks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Children who drink sweet drinks less often are less likely to be obese, according to the study. More from Reuters:
Although the link between sugary drinks and extra weight has been well documented among teens and adults, researchers said that up until now, the evidence was less clear for young children.
“Even though sugar-sweetened beverages are relatively a small percentage of the calories that children take in, that additional amount of calories did contribute to more weight gain over time,” said Dr. Mark DeBoer, who led the study at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
He and his colleagues surveyed the parents of a nationally-representative group of 9,600 children when the kids were two, four and five years old. The children were all born in 2001. Parents reported on their income and education, as well as how often children drank sugary beverages and watched TV.
The children and their mothers were weighed at each survey visit.
The proportion of kids who had at least one soda, sports drink or sugar-sweetened juice drink each day ranged from 9 to 13 percent, depending on their age.
Those children were more likely to have an overweight mother and to watch at least two hours of TV each day at age four and five.
After accounting for those influences as well as families’ socioeconomic status, the researchers found five-year-olds who had at least one sugary drink each day were 43 percent more likely to be obese than those who drank the beverages less frequently or not at all.
Kids were considered obese if they had a body mass index – a measure of weight in relation to height – above the 95th percentile for their age and gender, as calculated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Image: Child drinking sweet beverage, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
A New York State Supreme Court judge has issued a decision striking down New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks. In a move that is sure to get families talking about the relationship between sugary beverages and childhood obesity–and the government’s role in regulating both–State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling said that the rule is invalid because it isn’t applied consistently. More from The Associated Press:
‘‘The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule,’’ Tingling wrote in a victory for the beverage industry, restaurants and other business groups that called the rule unfair and wrong-headed.
In addition, the judge said the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health intruded on City Council’s authority when it imposed the rule.
The city vowed to appeal the decision, issued by New York state’s trial-level court.
‘‘We believe the judge is totally in error in how he interpreted the law, and we are confident we will win on appeal,’’ Bloomberg said. He added: ‘‘One of the cases we will make is that people are dying every day. This is not a joke. Five thousand people die of obesity every day in America.’’
For now, though, the ruling it means the ax won’t fall Tuesday on supersized sodas, sweetened teas and other high-sugar beverages in restaurants, movie theaters, corner delis and sports arenas.
‘‘The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban,’’ the American Beverage Association and other opponents said, adding that the organization is open to other ‘‘solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact.’’
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The first of its kind in the country, the restriction has sparked reaction from city streets to late-night talk shows, celebrated by some as a bold attempt to improve people’s health and derided by others as another ‘‘nanny state’’ law from Bloomberg during his 11 years in office.
Image: Sodas, via Shutterstock