NZFSA warns against caffeine for children, teens

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 2nd June 2010

Drink cansThe New Zealand Food Safety Authority has warned that energy drinks and energy shots containing caffeine are not suitable for children and young teenagers.

The food body has completed a risk profile on caffeine, finding that energy shots can have twice the caffeine of a single shot espresso coffee or cafe latte, as much as four times as a cup of tea and around 20 times that of a 50g milk chocolate bar.

According to the profile, temporary adverse effects can occur in some people consuming 3mg of caffeine per kg of body weight a day – for a 70kg adult, roughly two lattes or four cups of tea. There is no evidence of long-term harm in the general healthy adult population from caffeine consumption up to 400 mg per day.

However, more susceptible groups – children, teenagers, pregnant women and anyone sensitive to caffeine – need to be more careful, limiting caffeine intake and avoiding energy drinks where possible. Teenagers should consume the products only once in a while.

“The report has not found anything we didn’t already know: children and teenagers get caffeine from tea, kola drinks and coffee, and if they consume too much they could have effects like dizziness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, anxiety, tremors and insomnia,” public health principal advisor Donald Campbell says.

“These products are labelled with their caffeine content, and just as you wouldn’t hand a child a double long black, you shouldn’t give them energy shots,” Dr Campbell says.