Caffeine Craze of Youth
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
Many of us wake
up in the morning with only one thought on our mind....coffee!
No ones questions
the little perk that morning coffee provides. In fact, research supports
many positives for caffeine use, including an improvement in long-term
memory and faster learning.(1).
But the research
uses moderate amounts of caffeine and it doesn't take into consideration
the problems young nervous systems encounter with chronic caffeine
use. Caffeine mimics a neural chemical which our body produces naturally.
Continuous use of caffeine will cause the body's own system to quit
making the neural chemical - after all, why bother producing it in
the body, when you are providing it artificially.
to caffeine is now becoming more than just an adult problem. We see
it moving into younger and younger populations via soft drink consumption
which has increased dramatically in the last decade and a half. The
use of caffeine in youth causes a greater concern as the developing
nervous system needs to learn how to produce and balance its own natural
neural chemicals. Providing them artificially during this time causes
How much caffeine
are American(2) children getting? Here's a brief comparison:(3)
One cup of coffee
has 135 mgs. of caffeine.
One can of Mountain Dew - 56 mgs.
One cup of tea - 50 mgs.
One can of Diet Coke - 47 mgs.
One can of Sunkist Orange - 42 mgs.
One can of Dr. Pepper - 42 mgs.
One can of Pepsi - 38 mgs.
One can of Coke - 35 mgs.
One Excedrin pain
reliever tablet - 65 mgs.
One cup Ben & Jerry's coffee yogurt - 85 mgs.
One Hershey Bar - 10 mgs.*
frequently about the caffeine in chocolate. As you can see a child
would have to consume 14 chocolate bars to get the caffeine amount
in a cup of coffee. I think a child eating 14 chocolate bars has a
bigger problem than caffeine consumption.
Much of the increase
we see in childhood consumption of caffeine must be blamed on the
availability of the products in our schools. At some point during
the last 10 years many of our public schools began to actually depend
upon soft drink sales as a major source of funding.
To the concerns
of caffeine use on the developing nervous system, we can now add the
National Institute of Health's statement blaming America's obesity
on increased soft drink consumption and the new research now linking
the high phosphorus content of soft drinks with robbing our bones
of calcium - of particular concern to young females.
Who is protecting
our children? We are the nation's educators. If we don't take a stand,
P.(2000). Human Psychopharmacology Clinical &
Experimental, Vol 15(8) 573-581.
(2) The USA is
one of a handful of countries in the world that allows
soft drink manufacturers to add caffeine to soft drinks.
(3) Center for
Science in the Public Interest.
More tips and
ideas at: http://brains.org
F. Nunley is an educational psychologist, author, researcher and speaker
living in southern New Hampshire. Developer of the Layered Curriculum®
method of instruction, Dr. Nunley has authored several books and articles
on teaching in mixed-ability classrooms and other problems facing
today's teachers. Full references and additional teaching and
parental tips are available at: http://Help4Teachers.com Email her:
Kathie (at) brains.org