Archive for Monday, March 22, 2010

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Pop culture: Lawrence experts say cut kids off caffeine altogether

Cami Kennedy watches as her three-year-old daughter Suzana pours a cup of tea for herself. Kennedy says her daughter has been drinking decaffeinated tea for as long as she can remember.

Cami Kennedy watches as her three-year-old daughter Suzana pours a cup of tea for herself. Kennedy says her daughter has been drinking decaffeinated tea for as long as she can remember.

March 22, 2010

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Cami Kennedy and her daughter Suzana, 3, fill their cups for tea time recently in their Lawrence home. “I don’t purposely give her any caffeine,” says the Lawrence mom, who treats her daughter to noncaffeinated children’s tea. “You’re 100 percent supplying what they take in, so I just feel more responsible for keeping her away from things that aren’t necessary.”

Cami Kennedy and her daughter Suzana, 3, fill their cups for tea time recently in their Lawrence home. “I don’t purposely give her any caffeine,” says the Lawrence mom, who treats her daughter to noncaffeinated children’s tea. “You’re 100 percent supplying what they take in, so I just feel more responsible for keeping her away from things that aren’t necessary.”

If Dr. Stephen Lauer has seen it once, he’s seen it one time too many. And he’s seen it many, many times.

Glancing into his clinic waiting room, the pediatrician spies a child young enough to be aged in months and weighed down by a full diaper, sipping an adult-sized bottle of soda pop.

Forget for a moment the sugar-fueled childhood obesity epidemic. What also concerns Lauer is the other component that makes soda so addictive: caffeine.

The stimulant that so many sleep-deprived parents rely on isn’t so good for their kids — with or without the sugar. Yes, while caffeine may not be as much of an advertised evil-doer as sugar, it certainly wears a black hat as far as your child’s diet is concerned.

“The problem is that it sneaks into their diet in a lot of ways now, and it’s such a common thing for adults that we really forget what it is,” says Lauer, vice chairman of clinical affairs in the pediatrics department at Kansas University Medical Center. “And what it is a psychoactive drug that has numerous effects both in the body and the brain.”

Those effects are both obvious and subtle, especially when dealing with young children. Caffeine consumption leads to lack of focus, sleep disruption, dehydration — caffeine is a mild diuretic — and bone density loss because caffeine interferes with calcium absorption.

And then there are the related issues, including weight gain from sugary, caffeinated drinks and tooth deterioration from the sugar and acid in caffeinated soda.

“It certainly has numerous effects, but the biggest ones that we worry about is the disruption of sleep and the lack of focus that goes with it,” Lauer says. “After a certain point, it can help, but then it makes things worse, so it really becomes a big deal.”

For just those reasons, Cami Kennedy won’t allow her 3-year-old daughter Suzana have caffeine, even in the chocolate form.

“I don’t purposely give her any caffeine,” says the Lawrence mom, who treats her daughter to noncaffeinated children’s tea. “You’re 100 percent supplying what they take in, so I just feel more responsible for keeping her away from things that aren’t necessary.”

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Lawrence dad Danny Veerkamp also puts the kibosh on caffeine, lumping it in with all the other ills of the American diet he doesn’t want to pass his son’s lips.

Cami Kennedy and her husband, Jeff, buy Suzana a special kind of herbal tea made for kids.

Cami Kennedy and her husband, Jeff, buy Suzana a special kind of herbal tea made for kids.

“(We avoid) the usual stuff that they talk about that you don’t want to let kids have: Caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars or highly refined carbohydrates,” says Veerkamp, dad to Finn, 7.

Dr. Terry Riordan of Lawrence’s Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 346 Maine, says that it’s hard for many parents to avoid the trap of “do as I say, not as I do” when it comes to caffeine. Sleep-deprived parents may use caffeine as a crutch early in parenthood and be unable or unwilling to drop the habit once their child is old enough to want a sip from mommy or daddy’s cup. Even Kennedy and Veerkamp cop to having caffeine occasionally — out of their children’s sight.

“Kids have habits that their parents have,” Riordan says. “And it’s difficult for the parents to go off caffeine because pop tastes different without caffeine in it, and they don’t like the taste of it.”

Lauer recommends that parents focus on reducing or eliminating the major sources of caffeine — soda pop and chocolate — from the whole family’s diet.

“It absolutely has to be a family effort, or it’s not going to work,” Lauer says. “Telling many families or parents that they are really going to have to be the role models and cut out the Diet Cokes and pop and everything is a really hard-sell.”

Maybe because of that hard sell, Riordan says that in his office he preaches moderation of all the dietary evils with the hopes that in the end his patients will ingest fewer of those dietary evils — caffeine, sugar, fat, etc.

“Anything in moderation is OK,” Riordan says. “But a can of pop a day every day is not moderation, it’s too much caffeine and too much sugar.”

Comments

lounger 5 years, 3 months ago

Good article but...Decaffinated drinks (tea) are not healthy either. The process of decaf is laced with chemicals. You can naturally decaf tea by using an already used bag (one time use only).

youarewhatyoueat 5 years, 3 months ago

Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine to begin with, though not all are okay for children consumption.

chocolateplease 5 years, 3 months ago

It's hard to believe the article was written without a single reference to coffee! Are they suggesting that parents give up coffee as a good example to their kids? I think not.

flux 5 years, 3 months ago

caffeine lets to smoking which in turn leads to drinking and that is followed by marijuana then on to cocaine/speed and then death

labmonkey 5 years, 3 months ago

Pop for a toddler is moronic.... but you can go overboard the oether way too. If you become the caffeine or sugar Nazi, then what will happen when they go over to a friend's house, or start hanging out out of your sight? Moderation is what is needed. This guy is not preaching moderation but elimination.

flux 5 years, 3 months ago

Thats not the point of the article Oak.

lounger 5 years, 3 months ago

Oak My youngans have NEVER been to McDonalds. Total poison!

EyeonKansas 5 years, 3 months ago

Total elimination is just not possible. If I tried to eliminate it entirely and lump it into an "evil" category then children are drawn to it. Seriously, even God couldn't prevent his children from trying something, especially when he said they CAN'T have it... yeah, even as perfect as God is he gave his children free will and they ran with it and ate from the tree.

I teach my children about moderation and alternatives. Now, my older child prides herself in knowing which items have too much, and she proudly comes home to tell me about her choices. It isn't an absolute and therefore she is open to talking about these things. I'm hoping now that she is becoming a teenager she will continue the pattern of being open with me and making better choices. She also know what absolutes are and that if it is an absolute for her then it is an absolute with other law abiding citizens.

I've also raised older children (not my own) that are now adults... but they are a whole other story~

gccs14r 5 years, 3 months ago

I remember when we were kids (I was five and my sisters were nine and eleven), when we were allowed to have a Pepsi (very infrequently), we had to be dressed nicely, sit at the table, use good glasses with ice, and a single (returnable) 16 oz bottle gave each of us a serving with some left over, presumably for Mom. I was probably nine or ten the first time someone's parent handed me a whole 16 oz bottle for myself. I didn't know what to do with it--it might as well have been a tanker truck. There was no glass, no one else was sharing the bottle, it was just weird. I don't think I was able to finish it, because it was just too much. Once upon a time a 6.5oz Coke was a single serving for an adult. Now people get vats of the stuff in a drive-through.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 3 months ago

Do you mean to say I need to quit fulling my baby's bottle with Red Bull power drink? Will Mountain Dew code red suffice?

iloveme 5 years, 3 months ago

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peacock 5 years, 3 months ago

humans ARE fragile enough that we are killing ourselves with food from all the places you just listed!!! you may not be feeling the effects now but you and your children will feel it later.... science has shown that!

i love myself some good mc donald's crack, but i limit it to a treat that i eat maybe once a month. i would imagine that you probably frequent at least one of those drive thrus on your list each day....

i am with everyone on the "everything in moderation" boat.

JustNoticed 5 years, 3 months ago

That crap is nasty. Once you get over your addiction to it, it's obvious that it tastes like garbage.

labmonkey 5 years, 3 months ago

If everything you eat and drink kills you, why not stop eating and drinking?

kimmydarling 5 years, 3 months ago

It's more the emphasis that people are eating a diet so rich in highly processed and chemical filled junk that we AREN'T eating "real food" anymore.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 3 months ago

Agree with above, tantalizing is total interdiction for a young person. There is a moderate option, which means you can recognize limits or at least learn that valuable self-knowledge, especially in a dry run under your own roof. And it's unusual that they will do as I say, not as I do. For nuture reasons also, the apple don't fall far from the tree. I too remember the advent of the "big" bottles of soda and the other side of good was gastritis. They also started loading up the pop with cheap corn sugar as Americans love to graze. A God-given right, mandated by the Constitution I think.

Kat Christian 5 years, 3 months ago

Bull dung!! This article is too general. Some kids benefit from caffeine (not soda). Hyperactive kids can become calmer and a little more focused with a cup of coffee. I know I had such a kid. I drank coffee as a kid and it didn't kill me. I don't let my kid drink soda except on occasion when there is nothing else to drink or as a special treat. But he does drink coffee watered down with lots of milk. I never gave my kids soda until they were of school age if any. I wouldn't advice giving any toddler soda (especially in a bottle) I've seen too many babies from my generation end up with rotten teeth before they were old enough to start school. I don't recommend juice in a bottle either. Mountain Dew should just be outlawed. EveryThing in excess is bad for YOU. ANything in moderation has it's beneifts one way or another.

heyheymama 5 years, 3 months ago

this is not a news flash or "pop culture". caffeine is a drug that kills 48,000 people a year.

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