Warning: Indian children are increasingly getting addicted to caffeine

Warning: Indian children are increasingly getting addicted to caffeine

A new research has proved that an increasing number of youth in the country are getting addicted to caffeine that is commonly found in traditional drinks like tea, coffee and colas and energy drinks

If you have been allowing your kids to drink tea or coffee to kick start their day, then you might want stop this right away. A new research has proved that an increasing number of youth in the country are getting addicted to caffeine that is commonly found in traditional drinks like tea, coffee and colas and energy drinks.  

Published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, the research was conducted by Department of Pediatrics, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi. 

What the study says

The researchers set out to estimate the daily consumption of caffeine among urban school-going adolescents from Delhi. They studied 300 participants of which, 174 were boys and 126 were girls aged 15 years. They made the following observations:

  • About 291 students (97 percent) consumed caffeine to the tune of 98.2 mg per day
  • About 19 children (6 percent) students were consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine per day
  • Tea or coffee contributed to more than 50 percent of the caffeine intake
  • The rest of the 50 percent caffeine intake came from cola beverages, chocolates, and energy drinks

The study concluded that average caffeine consumption among school-going adolescents from Delhi was high. However, the findings of this preliminary survey are yet to be confirmed in larger data sets.

Side effects of caffeine on children

Dr Piyush Gupta, Department of Pediatrics, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, University College of Medical Sciences, and author of the study, released a statement about the study. He says, "Excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages can have a negative effect on health in terms of optimal sleep, overall growth and development, and the risk for engaging in risky behaviours."

He also mentioned that the prevalence of caffeine intake, especially among adolescents is increasing presumed to be due to the availability of wide range of caffeinated products including colas and energy drinks, apart from the traditional sources including tea and coffee.

The study also made the following observations about the effects of caffeine intake among young Indian children:

  • These drinks contain caffeine levels ranging from 50 mg (equivalent to a soda can) to 500 mg (equivalent to five cups of coffee).
  • This may also enhance the preference for sweet foods
  • Such inclusion of caffeine on a regular basis can increase the incidence of overweight, obesity apart from the direct effects of caffeine on neural, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and renal functions

Upper limit of caffeine intake in India

Unfortunately, despite having so many side-effects, the government has not yet set a minimal safe limit on caffeine, except an upper limit of 300 mg/day, which is recommended for adolescents.­

This study has also revealed that the average daily intake of caffeine among adolescents has not been documented in India. This is an important step because this will curb excessive limit of caffeine among young children.

(Image courtesy: Gettyimages)

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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