Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

Caffeinated soft drinks are a popular beverage choice among kids these days. A recent study showed that children between the ages of eight and twelve get the caffeine equivalent of three-and-a-half sodas on a daily basis. Some parents are concerned that this could affect their growth. Does caffeine stunt growth?

Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

Caffeine isn’t good for kids, but there’s little evidence that caffeine stunts growth. On the other hand, this issue hasn’t been thoroughly researched. The only study looking at growth, bone density and caffeine was published in the American College of Nutrition in 1998. It showed that caffeine didn’t affect height or bone density in girls between ages twelve and eighteen.

On the other hand, there has been concern that caffeine could increase the risk of osteoporosis in adults. One study showed that for every cup of caffeinated coffee a person drinks, about 5 additional milligrams of calcium are lost in the urine, but this is a very small amount that could be easily replaced through diet by simply adding milk to the coffee.

Although research has been conflicting, most studies don’t support the idea that caffeine negatively affects bone density, much less growth in children. Still, this question hasn’t been completely resolved, so coffee drinkers should be sure they get an adequate amount of calcium in their diet.

Even though there’s no evidence that caffeine stunts growth, a recent study showed that caffeine causes kids to sleep less at night, which can affect their school performance during the day. It also raises blood pressure in children and can cause nervousness and anxiety, which makes it hard to concentrate in class. Most kids do better without the additional stimulation of caffeine.

Does Caffeine Stunt Growth: The Bottom Line?

There’s no evidence that caffeine stunts growth, but kids are better off without caffeinated soft drinks. Caffeine has no nutritional value and no real benefits for a child – it only leads to sleep problems, nervousness and problems concentrating in class. Don’t let your child become a soft drink or energy drink junkie. Steer them towards caffeine-free alternatives.

References:

Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “Dietary Caffeine Intake Is Not Correlated with Adolescent Bone Gain”

The Coffee Science Information Center. “Coffee, Caffeine, Calcium Balance and Bone Health”

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