Caffeine: good, bad, or both?

Sophie Pressler, Reporter

There is no doubt that caffeinated drinks are a huge staple in the lives of more than a few teens. The question is: Is this good, bad, or something in more of a gray area? With the number of teen, including child, consumption reaching 75%, the debate about its positive and negative effects is causing a divide between teens and parents alike.

For various reasons such as its effect on the body and mental state, the most beneficial and healthiest decision would be to try and eliminate caffeine from one’s diet.

As caffeine consumption is at an all-time high, it’s time to discuss its ongoing list of negative effects. While most adults can safely consume up to 300 mg of caffeine a day, teens, who often consume similar amounts or even more, are not as well equipped to handle such large quantities due to their still growing bodies. Caffeine in extreme amounts can lead to cardiac arrest and even death.

Excluding worst case scenarios, energy drinks and coffee alike have many adverse health effects. For example, some of the signs that the body has consumed too much caffeine include headaches, anxiety and shakiness. These symptoms can greatly affect the capability of students in school and could be negatively reflected by poor grades in their classes.

One of the most important things that caffeine affects is sleep. Sleep is especially important for teenagers because they generally require more than adults, about 9 hours, to function at full capacity. With too much caffeine in their everyday diet, students have a more challenging time getting enough sleep sometimes causing not only emotional, but physical problems such as increased acne and weight gain.

Despite arguments stating that caffeine can lower the risks of major diseases such as Parkinson’s, the overall risk outweighs slight benefits such as this. The reduction of caffeine affects teens especially due to long school hours and high academic standards. With less, the benefits can include increased focus, more sleep, better academic performance and clearer skin.

The best possible way to keep caffeine in one’s diet, but reduce its effects is to limit oneself to only one or two small caffeinated beverages a day. In addition, not drinking caffeine in the afternoon or late at night will combat problems with getting enough sleep. If either of these options seems unmanageable, another helpful thing to do would be to avoid energy drinks if at all possible, for these contain outrageous amounts of caffeine and sugar.

Considering the early school start time and negative effects, cutting down on caffeine is a proactive and wise decision. Less caffeine, more success.