When I was growing up our mom wouldn’t let us drink coffee because it’s bad for our health. Nowadays a quick visit to the coffee shop can dispel that concept. Aside from the numerous posters and pamphlets promoting the health benefits of coffee, you can also see kids and teenagers populating the shop. But is it really safe for our kids to be drinking coffee at an early age?
The main health concern for coffee is its caffeine content. Caffeine is a known stimulant for the central nervous system that is often used to increase alertness, focus and clearer flow of thought. However, it may also cause an increase in heart rate or increase in blood pressure. It also has an addictive component which can be harmful for your child.
However, coffee is not the only product in the market which contains caffeine. Chocolate, tea, soda and some snack items in your kids’ canteen or snack bars may also contain caffeine. This puts eating chocolate bars, drinking soda or energy drinks in the same platform as drinking coffee.
Caffeine is generally safe to take in moderation. It may even help your child concentrate in school work. However, a child’s caffeine consumption must be closely monitored because excessive caffeine intake can have disastrous effects on your child’s health. Aside from the possibility of aggravating heart problems or nervous disorders, it may also cause irritability and hyperactivity. It may also affect your child’s nutrition if coffee starts to replace milk or juices which have higher nutritional value.
So if you ask me if it’s safe for my child to drink coffee, I’d say a definite NO. At least not until they are educated on the nutritional and health benefits of coffee as well as the health risks of caffeine and they become responsible enough to regulate their caffeine intake. In the meantime an occasional drink of decaffeinated coffee would do to satisfy their curiosity or cravings.