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Health & Parenting

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Kids Sweet on Caffeine, Mainly Soda

Caffeine Intake Among Children Equivalent to Nearly 3 Cans of Soda a Day

Poor Sleep Affects School Performance

“Sodas are junk food and have no nutritional value,” says Charles Shubin, MD, director of pediatrics at Mercy FamilyCare, a division of Family Health Centers of Baltimore.

Poor sleep can affect school performance. “Sleep debt catches up and kids will fall asleep in school and not do their schoolwork,” he says.

Shubin says the reason caffeine does not seem to increase bed-wetting is likely because children are not sleeping as deeply if they have caffeine, so they wake up to go to the bathroom.

Ihuoma U. Eneli, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is surprised at the amount of caffeine that children in the new study took in.

“I think that parents have to be a little more aware of what their kids are drinking,” she says. “Even diet soda has caffeine and some of the fancy drinks that middle schoolers and high schoolers drink also have a lot of caffeine,” she says.

Besides sleep problems, caffeine can produce anxiety symptoms, she tells WebMD.

"Children are getting less and less sleep over the last 50 years and are replacing it with caffeine consumption," says Heidi Connolly, MD, chief of the division of pediatric sleep medicine at University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.

"The less you sleep the more likely you are to be overweight. This is proven in adults and likely true in children as well," she says.

Children aged 2 and above should drink water and low-fat milk. "Sugar beverages in general are a poor choice and those with caffeine are an even poorer choice," she tells WebMD. “The caffeine in one cola is a significant dose for a small child -- not to mention the calories."

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