Saturday, February 16, 2013

Caffeinated Children

Caffeine.  It is a big part of life.  Just about every person out there ingests small amounts of the stuff every day.  It seems that it's a natural part of a lot of the things we eat and drink.  Coffee of course is a big one, tea, chocolate, most every soft drink, especially the artificially sweetened ones.  And the stuff shows up in ice cream, frozen waffles, jelly bellies, Cracker Jacks, beef jerky, energy bars and yes, even added to potato chips.  Yep, you read that correctly, it is an added ingredient to some brands of potato chips.

The fun part of all this is that the good ol' wonderful FDA does not require food and drink manufacturers to list on the label the amount of caffeine that they add to any of their products.  Hmmmm, let's see now, so if you were to slam down a couple of Starbucks venti's on the way to work, that's 830 mg caffeine, then get a couple of 5 hour energy drinks, along with a couple of hits of regular coffee, that's another 860 mg.  Then say a couple of chocolate bars and some chips for a reduced calorie but still enjoyable lunch, well, that's another 130 mg.  Hmmmmm, that's over 1800 mg of caffeine.  On what would be considered a regular day for some.  In the past 5 years, there have been 23 deaths directly attributed to people drinking caffeinated energy drinks.  There are no numbers to report how many there are in actuality.  I am pretty sure that there are a lot more, just no way to directly relate them.  Also there are no figures as to how many hospital visits there are for convulsions, hallucinations, heart attacks and other serious side effects from excess caffeine consumption.  Hospitals just don't care to find out why those things happen.

"The existence of an adverse event report does not necessarily mean that the product identified in the report actually caused the event."  FDA report "Energy Drinks and Supplements".  All about caffeinated beverages.  It's on the FDA website.

The whole problem comes down to marketing.  Now days, big companies are shifting their marketing of all of these products to kids.  Slick marketing ads with skateboarders doing their tricks, bike kids doing fancy wheelwork, all good looking young teens on the go, and drinking caffeinated beverages.


How much caffeine is considered too much?  Most authorities state that for an average adult in good health, 400 mg of caffeine is the upper limit.  Per day.  Above that, and serious side effects can begin to be perceived.  Nervousness, heart palpitations, jitterynous, changes in visual acuity.  400mg.  How much does an average child from middle income families consume daily?  How about yours?

Personally, I like coffee.  Years ago I used to drink 3 or 4 pots of coffee everyday.  Yeah, I know, that's a lot.  I have also passed about 15 kidney stones in my life, and so I don't drink so much coffee anymore.  But the coffee I do drink, I make sure is exceptional.  And I don't invest in any of that other crap out there that has caffeine added to it in an effort to make people addicted to it.  I have this book, and it is pretty cool, it chronicles the world of coffee in ways you may not ever have thought.  Try it, if you love coffee like I do.

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