Kids should be avoiding caffeinated drinks

I was at Timmies the other day, and a man was ordering just ahead of me. He asked his young daughter what she wanted to drink. “A large iced capp.”

I try to mind my own business, but I must have made a slight grimace or some sort of facial expression that caught his eye just enough for him to notice. Since he caught my eye, I said (as politely and respectfully as I could) “Were you aware that iced capps are made with caffeine?”

He had no idea, and we had a quick chat about it. He ordered his daughter and iced tea instead. Now don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Tim Horton’s, in fact, I consider it downright un-Canadian not to eat there.

Iced capps are my favourite guilty pleasure, and I will work out for an extra hour just to ‘earn’ one. It’s not a great plan, I know, but if that is my only vice (probably not), I’ll take it.

Here’s the thing though: I am a fully-grown adult, and the 150 mg of caffeine (more than a large coffee) in an iced capp gives me some energy, but is appropriate for my physiology. Adults can drink coffee. Kids should not. The problem is that most parents have no idea that iced capps are made with espresso, and they are not appropriate for kids. I watched a man walk in to our local Timmies and ask for a large decaf coffee for himself and a large iced capp for his six or sever-year-old son. I held my tongue, but should I have said something? It’s not my place to do so, but here, in this article – it IS my job.

Parents: do NOT let your kids drink coffee. Sometimes that means asking, or reading a label to find out what drinks have caffeine in them if it isn’t obvious.

This leads to energy drinks. I have seen more kids drinking these things than adults – I have seen hockey teams of eight-year-olds, and skiers at the chalet, and soccer players slamming them back by the case before practice or a game.

When I speak at junior high or high schools on nutrition, I always make sure to cover this topic, because it is truly the biggest crime and tragedy beset upon our youth of this generation. Energy drinks are NOT for children, at all. When I speak at the schools, I ask this question: “Do energy drinks GIVE you energy?”

The kids always get the answer wrong. When I speak to adults and parents, they also get the answer wrong every time as well. Read it again: Do energy drinks give you energy?

The answer? No. They do NOT give you energy.

Energy drinks force your body to RELEASE stored energy by stimulating your adrenal glands as well as your other endocrine system glands responsibly to energy. Similar to the natural ‘fight or flight’ response when we are scared, or in danger from attack by an animal.

Constantly ‘scaring’ yourself by having an energy drink leads to a whole host of problems! Heart issues, adrenal fatigue, vitamin imbalances, dependency issues and more.

Caffeine is the main ingredient in energy drinks, in amounts often more than two or three cups of coffee, in a small can of pop.

Pretty soon the energy drink ‘doesn’t do anything’, so kids have two, or three.

It is my opinion that energy drinks risk being the gateway ingredient to cocaine, speed and more as kids no longer get a buzz and look for the next thing to work. Side effects of kids and caffeine include dizziness, irritability, nausea, nervousness, jitters. Allergic reactions can include rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the (mouth, face, lips, or tongue), diarrhea, shakiness, trouble sleeping, vomiting. And if they quit drinking them, they will suffer from headaches and severe fatigue from withdrawal.

Another main ingredient in energy drinks is high doses of the amino acid Taurine. It’s used in high doses for people with epilepsy who have facial tics.

Think about that: prevention of facial tics, because the ingredients in energy drinks could cause them.

I am not saying energy drinks are bad, I am saying that they are inappropriate for kids, and adults should be cautious about how often they have them as well.

Happy training!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out www.personaltrainersylvanlake.com for more information.

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