For many teens, adding in a cup of coffee to the daily routine is no oddity. In years past, coffee has often been associated with college students and working adults but is now a trend taking a turn towards today’s teenagers. The American Dietetic Association states that when it comes to teenagers drinking caffeinated beverages, the number has tripled since the 1970’s. With the fast pace of society and high expectations of involvement, coffee has become a key to success for many teens, leaving many are asking- what kind of consequences come with this trend?
What exactly is the fuel behind this coffee trend among teens? Many enjoy the social aspect. In a spending survey conducted by investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray, Starbucks Coffee tops the list as the favorite chain restaurant among U.S. teens, and has been for the past eight surveys. The restaurant glamorizes the act of drinking coffee with their high calorie, sugary drinks that mask the “bitter” taste of regular coffee. In perspective, a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha alone is 520 calories, which is the caloric equivalent to 3.7 cans of Coca-Cola. Leaving very little room for a defense when dubbed “coffee-flavored sugar.”
Though, for some teens the love of coffee roots deeper than the Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Frappuccinos, and may even be considered an addiction.
“If I don’t have at least one cup of coffee a day I get a migraine. Also if I don’t have it I will most likely fall asleep in the morning classes,” senior Julia Snider said.
Caffeine is a chemical compound found in various plants that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Like any drug, caffeine has addictive properties, and statistics given out by doctors state that caffeine is one of the most psychoactive drugs found in the world. In a study of high school students, it was discovered that students who stayed up late drinking caffeinated beverages and studying had problems with concentration at school during the day.
“Without a cup of coffee I usually feel really tired, my head hurts, and sometimes my hands shake. So I end up drinking coffee every day, sometimes several times a day,” senior Francy Shumrick said.
Though caffeine use alone is not enough to do serious damage to one’s health, the list of potential side effects are far from minimal, and are not worth the risk. It interferes with the amount of deep sleep achieved throughout the night which is a vital part of brain development. Additional effects due to sleep interferences include poor moods, aggression, impulsiveness, and loss of behavioral control.
“Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are adding unneeded sugar to teen diets. This leads to teens not drinking enough milk and water- two essential drinks for a developing mind,” McNicholas School Nurse Mary Anne Christmann said.