• 72°

Kids and coffee

By Victoria Brett
For The Associated Press
Getting your morning jolt can be tough in Hawarden, Iowa, where there are 2,600 people and not one Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s even harder when you’re too young to drive.
Which makes the middle and high school students at West Sioux Community School especially grateful for the Falcon Joe Coffee Shop, an oasis of espressos, lattes and other coffee drinks right inside their school.
“It’s a very popular thing. Most of us hang out on the couches in the senior lounge and chat while we drink lattes,” says 18-year-old Diana Rubio, who has been drinking coffee since she was about 12.
She and the 3-year-old cafe ó part of the school’s business curriculum ó are part of a new and fast-growing culture of coffee-drinking youths who co-opted a drink once enjoyed mostly by adults.
It’s a change fueled by the easy-drinking dessert-like coffee concoctions popular at so many coffee shops, as well as by permissive adults. Falcon Joe, for example, was the idea of the school principal.
“Parents view it as the least of possible evils, and it’s something they do themselves,” says Kevin Osborn, who studies teen coffee-drinking trends as an analyst with consumer research firm Social Technologies. He likens the coffee shop to the soda shops of a generation ago.
“It shows the level of acceptability with caffeine and adolescents if we are introducing it into our curriculum. Coffee was not in the equation years ago and now people don’t even think about the consequence,” he says.
Though coffee consumption by teens isn’t well tracked, Dan Raiten, a nutrition researcher at the National Institutes of Health, says more children seem to be drinking more coffee, and starting at younger ages.
In 2001, 10 percent of visits to gourmet coffee and tea shops were by consumers under the age of 18, according to market research firm NPD Group. Last year it was 13 percent.
From there, the numbers go up. The National Coffee Association says young people are the fastest growing coffee-drinking niche. In 2002, about 24 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds drank coffee. Last year, it was 37 percent.
It’s a trend the coffee companies aren’t fighting. Dunkin’ Donuts declined to comment except to say it provides a range of drinks that appeal to a broad demographic. Starbucks echoed that sentiment in a written statement, calling itself “a gathering place for the entire community.”
“What makes young customers good customers is that they generally buy expensive, high-profit drinks, like Frappuccinos,” says Bryant Simon, a Temple University history professor who is writing a book about Starbucks.
“They are important because they have the potential to become lifelong customers,” he says.
But are coffee drinks ó with the fanciest concoctions often packed with sugar and fat ó good for kids?
“It is not associated with life-threatening health risk, but that is not to say that it is entirely benign,” says Roland Griffiths, a caffeine expert and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University.
“Caffeine is likely the world’s most-used mood-altering drug and it does produce mood changes and physical dependence and withdrawal,” he says. “It needs to be recognized as a drug.”
For comparison, a 16-ounce Starbucks coffee has about 320 milligrams of caffeine. It would take more than nine 12-ounce Cokes to get that much caffeine from soda.
A 2007 report by the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools advised against selling caffeinated products to children because of possible negative effects of dependency and withdrawal, including difficulty concentrating.
But sweet coffee drinks are making caffeine more accessible to children, says Dr. Mark Stein, a pediatrics professor and expert on children and caffeine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“From commercials and the media the idea is that you need an extra jolt in life. And now that jolt tastes good to a 12-year-old,” he says. “The main concern is of kids becoming dependent on it and they need it to get going.”
The Falcon Joe cafe is no anomaly. School officials around the country rejoice at the flow of students into libraries after cafes are added. And high schoolers clutching coffee cups during morning classes has become the norm.
“It’s a symbol of grown-up sophistication,” says Simon. “Caffeine isn’t great for you, but it can’t really kill you, so this is a safe place for expressing adolescent angst and desires for independence.”
But Dr. Marcie Schneider, of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ nutrition committee, worries as she sees girls skipping meals and using coffee to lose weight, sometimes fueled by a glorification of coffee by young celebrities.
And Griffiths, the Johns Hopkins professor, thinks parents should exercise more oversight when it comes to coffee consumption.
“Coffee is being promoted in milkshake-like concoctions, and parents may become blind to the fact that this is really a psychoactive drug, and it could be a significant dose for someone who is not tolerant,” he says.
Among the side effects, caffeine withdrawal can trigger headaches, lethargy, inability to concentrate, irritability, depression, mood changes and in some cases nausea, vomiting or achy flu-like symptoms.
“Who needs that in teenagers?” says Griffiths.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Blotter: April 13

Coronavirus

County switches vaccines for mass vaccination clinic after federal, state guidance

Coronavirus

US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

Education

Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data

Business

‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home

News

Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine

News

Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law

Local

Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award

Landis

Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

College

College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1

Nation/World

Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed

Nation/World

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

Education

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options