Would you give your 4-year-old a cup of fully caffeinated coffee? How about Red Bull?
I can just imagine the results in our house if I started giving our toddler son Seth the stuff:
Morning: Seth wakes up at 11 a.m. with a caffeine withdrawal headache. Up too late for preschool, we put a cold compress on his head and get him going with a nice steaming cup of coffee. Don’t worry, we put some milk in it for nutritional value. “Thanks dad, I’m feeling better already.”
Afternoon: After he breaks every glass object inside the house, we put Seth out back so he can bounce freely in the yard. He pulls down a few of the smaller trees, but that’s okay because I’m behind in gardening chores.
Evening: After trying to get Seth to bed for a few hours, we give up and stick him in front of the TV. Three movies later, he conks out shortly after midnight.
If you haven’t guessed, there is NO WAY IN HELL I’d ever give Seth caffeine – except for a little chocolate – while he’s a youngster. But that’s exactly what AdvoCare wants me to do, reports The New York Times.
AvoCare’s drink KickStart Spark, which reportedly tastes like Kool-Aid, is an attempt to get athletes ages 4-11 to consume more caffeine in a single serving than the 45 milligrams adults receive from a single cup of coffee. Considering as an adult I can barely handle 5-10 milligrams of caffeine each day, I can only imagine what the 60 milligrams a serving does to a toddler.
Once youngsters are fully addicted, they can upgrade to Spark, a sister drink for kids 12 and up. This drink contains a whopping 120 milligrams of caffeine, which is equal to almost three cups of coffee.
“It’s not just a caffeine delivery system; it has many more nutritional properties,” comes the lame explanation from Sidney Stohs, a company vice president. You mean like the taurine you put in this concoction on the theory it enhances the absorption of caffeine?
What are the dangers of pouring caffeine into a tyke? Surprisingly, little research has been done, but apparently it “can make children more emotionally unstable, hyperactive and irritable, and less attentive in school,” writes the Times. Gee, sounds like Attention Deficit Disorder.
So why would an American company treat the well-being of children with such disrespect other than to make money? To make more money, of course:
“I am concerned that they are gateway substances,” Frank Uryasz, president of the National Center for Drug Free Sport and administrator of college drug testing programs, tells the Times. “I think it develops a mind-set especially among young athletes that they have to take something – a powder, a pill, a liquid – to improve their performance, when actually study after study shows that almost all of these products add no value to a young person’s athletic performance.”
Ah but Frank, you were missing the point. These companies are not trying to enhance the athletes’ performance, they are trying to enhance their own profit performance. To heck with whether it is good for kids or not.