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Should teens be turning to caffeine for boost?

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Here is a list of beverages and their caffeine amounts, according to www.energyfiend.com. The list below does not include other stimulants like guarana and taurine.

Coca-Cola Classic, 12 ounces, 34 mg

Mountain Dew, 12 ounces, 54 mg

Coffee (brewed), 8 ounces, 108 mg

Coffee (drip), 8 ounces, 145 mg

Starbucks short coffee, 8 ounces, 180 mg

Monster Energy Drink, 16 ounces, 160 mg

Monster Hitman Sniper, 3 ounces, 240 mg

Red Bull, 8.46 ounces, 80 mg

Rockstar, 16 ounces, 160 mg

Rockstar Punched Guava, 22 ounces, 330 mg

SoBe No Fear, 8 ounces, 83 mg

Amp Energy Drink, 16 ounces, 143 mg

5 Hour Energy, 2 ounces, 138 mg

Updated: September 20, 2012 8:55AM



Caffeine. It’s not just an adult choice for a quick a.m. pick-me-up or anytime-of-the-day boost.

Today, it’s a popular choice among teens and young adults, especially when their nonstop, year-round schedule includes school, sports practice, extra-curriculars, conditioning, performances and games along with club involvement, religion classes, jobs and social time.

All encompass a work load, dedication and commitment we as adults never experienced as kids.

“Kids are so sleep deprived they are (consuming) caffeine to have more energy,” said Dr. Luke Tremble of ThedaCare Pediatrics in Appleton, Wis.

In the past, kids primarily turned to soda for their caffeine, but now that has shifted to include the indulgence of coffees and energy drinks.

“There is no good reason for kids to have caffeine,” Tremble said.

Drinks with caffeine can cause side effects that increase children’s heart rate, boost blood pressure, interfere with normal sleep, cause mood swings, enhance anxiety and create additional withdrawal problems including tiredness, irritability and headaches, he said.

“It’s hard as adults, parents, teachers to help kids understand that it’s not good to drink and consume caffeine, when we drink it,” said Cindy Kohler, a high school health and physical education teacher.

Place to hang out

Coffees come in a multitude of flavors, hot or iced and with whipped cream toppers drizzled with chocolate syrup. It’s no wonder these coffee drinks tantalize and entice youth.

In addition, the numerous shops where teens and young adults purchase coffees have become a social gathering to hangout, further influencing their consumption.

Teens are trying to find something to do, said Brian Hegge, who manages a coffee shop.

A few teens drink coffee, but most drink the specialty drinks, the sweeter ones with the syrup and whipped cream, he said.

“I really never had a place to hang out when I was a teen. It’s pretty awesome they have some places to go to listen to music and drink specialty drinks. It keeps them out of trouble,” Hegge said.

Both 16-year-old Sophia Angst and 17-year-old Mikayla Kohls enjoy the taste of coffee.

Coffee drinking is “for sure popular with teens,” Angst said.

Both said they definitely like it in the morning, with Sophia having it black and Mikayla preferring it with half and half.

“I don’t need caffeine from it, but I recognize I get it,” Kohls said.

“Many of my friends drink it regularly every morning and won’t talk with you until they have their first cup,” Sophia said.

Energy drink concerns

As an alternate to the caffeinated sodas, teens and young adults are turning to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Red Bull, Amp, Monster and 5-hour Energy, to name a few. These drinks are marketed toward youth, boasting they increase energy, alertness, concentration, enhance athletic ability and are good for you.

The problem is that “kids don’t know what is in energy drinks,” Tremble said. “They really don’t know what they are drinking, and they don’t know these energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar and other stimulants in the form of caffeine, taurine and guarana.”

Energy drinks are not governed by the Food and Drug Administration because they are considered a dietary supplement. They are not required to identify how much caffeine or other types of stimulants are in the product. The amount of caffeine and other stimulants in some bottles or cans of energy drinks can exceed 500 mg, the equivalent of about 14 cans of Coke.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a lethal amount of caffeine is considered to be between 200-400 mg, which can cause caffeine toxicity.

That is exactly what happened in December, according to published news reports, when a 14-year-old girl from Maryland drank two, 24-ounce Monster energy drinks (480 mg of caffeine), resulting in cardiac arrhythmia and death.

There are no positive effects of caffeine or the added calorie intake when it comes to kids consuming coffee and energy drinks, Tremble said.

“I recommend water, water, water,” he said.

Gannett News Service



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