Editorial: Caffeine Consumption Should Be Limited for Teenagers

Julia Grenoble, Reporter

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Imagine going through a day of high school classes with dizziness, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and even muscle tremors. Daily tasks such as concentrating, studying, and writing notes could seem impossible to accomplish. These are all possible side effects of consuming caffeine, which is also known as the ‘socially acceptable psychoactive drug’, according to Medical News Today

The government should limit the amount of caffeine that teenagers are legally allowed to consume due to the possible short-term and long-term effects of the drug.

As a stimulant, caffeine is normally used to increase alertness, attention, and energy. These effects usually occur within an hour of consuming it. Many teenagers consume caffeine for these reasons. They may do so by having coffee in the morning or an energy drink before a sports game.

While caffeine can have negative effects on everyone, it can especially be detrimental to teenagers’ brain development. According to Very Well Health, “Caffeine may disrupt the formation of key connections in the brain.” Drinking large amounts of caffeine daily as a teenager can lead to slower brain development until the age of twenty-five. 

According to Very Well Health, “Caffeine takes a major toll on a teen’s sleep. Every 10 milligrams of caffeine a 13-year-old boy consumes decreases his chances of getting 8.5 hours of sleep by 12 percent.” Sleep deprivation, irritability, and difficulty concentrating are all negative effects of caffeine and can lead to other serious health issues such as anxiety, fatigue, and addiction.

One of the major negative effects of caffeine is the possibility of addiction. “The severity of the addiction is calculated based on how distressed someone feels when they want caffeine and can’t get it, and how much of a disruption this causes in their daily life,” according to Addiction Center.

Many people do not realize that their migraines or irritability could very well be connected to the caffeine they are consuming. If an individual who drinks coffee on a daily basis goes a few days without it, they may experience caffeine withdrawal, which can negatively affect the individual’s physical and mental health. Some side effects of caffeine withdrawal are fatigue, low energy, decreased alertness, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating. 

Caffeine is currently the world’s most commonly used drug. To join the fight to set legal limits of caffeine for children and adolescents, contact the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).