Kids and Caffeine: A Parent's Resource

Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that often acts as a stimulant. A crystalline, white, and bitter xanthine alkaloid, caffeine is found in drinks like coffee, but it also exists in drinks like sodas, teas, and energy drinks. In recent years, coffee and coffee drinks have grown in popularity among high school children, many of whom take increasing doses of caffeine because they think it will boost their energy for things like studying longer and taking part in more school activities. Some schools have taken to banning sugary drinks from school vending machines as well as cafeterias, yet this has resulted in some unintended consequences. For instance, some high school children use their lunch time to go to coffee shops for things like caramel-mocha coffee drinks with fudge drizzles and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Nutritional Information

For kids who drink a lot of coffee or coffee-based drinks, they may want to learn more about the caffeine content in many of these drinks, if for nothing more than to have an idea of how healthy (or unhealthy) these drinks are. Some teenagers fail to get a proper breakfast to start their day because, instead, they are using these coffee drinks as their breakfast substitute. What ends up happening to these misdirected kids is that they fill up their empty stomachs, not with nutritional food, but with a whole lot of sugar and caffeine. To put this into context, 1 ounce of a Starbucks Espresso has up to 75 milliliters of caffeine, 8 ounces of instant, generic coffee comes with up to 173 milliliters of caffeine, and generic brewed coffee features up to 200 milliliters of caffeine.

While high schoolers are not getting good nutrition or even any nutrition from coffee-based drinks, they are getting a certain energy fix from them. During the school day, it may give high schoolers a brief burst of energy for getting through things like studying and school activities, but a crash inevitably follows. During a crash, high schoolers then feel lazier and more deflated than before they had their caffeine fix for the day. As a result, both their schoolwork and their attention span suffer. Another detrimental effect is on physical health, as the sugar content in these coffee drinks is likely to produce both cavities as well as tooth decay if proper dental care is neglected. More popular coffee drinks like, for instance, Starbucks’ Frappuccinos can cost around $5.

Calorie Content: Coffee

Caffeine Content: Coffee

Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine Effects


Over the past several years, the number of coffee shops has increased, with chains like Starbucks being a particularly good example of this phenomenon. Some demographics, more so than others, are attracted to patronizing coffee shops. Coffee drinking is most popular with younger adults, such as those in their 20s, and it is within this demographic that coffee drinking has shown the greatest increase in the last several years. Men typically say drinking coffee helps them to get work done on time, while women generally assert that coffee helps them to relax and calm down.

Coffee and High Schoolers

Coffee in Schools

Who Drinks Coffee?

Consumption Stats

Health Problems

While drinking coffee can temporarily perk up an individual, drinking coffee also carries with it a lot of bad consequences to one’s health, particularly if done excessively. Some bad effects are more superficial, such as having bad breath or stained teeth, though those can negatively impact a person’s social life, to say the least. Other bad effects of drinking coffee include more serious ones. Adverse effects can be anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure and elevated heart rate.

Health Risks of Coffee

Is Coffee a Hazard or Health Drink?

Health Problems thanks to Coffee

Health Issues due to Coffee

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are another beverage type that is growing in popularity. Like with coffee-based drinks, energy drinks are targeted to younger people in their teens and early 20s. Energy drinks are popular with the younger set because they believe that it helps them cope with pressures in life, such as schoolwork and job responsibilities. As with coffee, too, energy drinks create "ups" and a "crash" that follows later, since the feeling of extra energy can’t be sustained and is only a temporary pick-up.

The Truth behind Energy Drinks (PDF)

Energy Drink Facts (PDF)

Energy Drinks and Booze

Energy Drinks and Sports

Double-edged Sword

Despite all the negative press about coffee, some studies have shown that coffee does have real and positive benefits for people. For example, coffee has been demonstrated to possess some protective properties against diseases like prostate cancer and Type II diabetes. In this sense, coffee can be viewed as something of a double-edged sword. It has a lot of bad health effects, although in some studies, the drink also has been proven to have some health benefits.

Positive Coffee Effects

Is Coffee a Healthy Drink?

Disease Prevention: Coffee?

Is Coffee as Healthy as Wine?