Thursday, July 28, 2005

A New Trend?

Is this something new happening in the world? Diane pointed it out to me yesterday and asked what I thought might be behind it. I had actually noticed it myself a day or so earlier, but hadn't given it much thought. What is it? Kids drinking coffee. Lately some of the neighborhood kids, pre-teen and early teen, have been coming in and buying coffee, even espresso, loading it up with sugar, and drinking it while walking in the neighborhood. At first, it seemed like just an anomaly, the one kid out of many who developed a taste for coffee (and caffeine) at an earlier age than their peers.

I only developed a taste for coffee and an addiction to caffeine after I went into the Navy. I was seventeen, almost eighteen, but I preferred milk and soft drinks to coffee. Then, I drank a lot of coffee in the Navy. At sea, we stood watches of fours hours on, eight hours off, around the clock. Schedules were rotated so that a watch would move around the clock, so there'd be an opportunity for eight hours sleep out of twenty-four. The mid-watch, midnight to four AM was the killer. Lights out was at ten PM. If you were on the mid-watch, you might get almost two hours of sleep before being awoken 15 minutes before the watch began, and maybe two hours more between four AM and reveille at six AM. Coffee made it possible to sit at a radar display for two out of the four hours of the watch without nodding off or losing focus. Conversation with watch mates helped too.

Anyway, what seems odd is that some kids, the ones who live here in Bahama Village at least, seem to have developed an early taste for that 'cuppa'. Does anyone know if this a trend? Could it be cultural? (The kids I'm talking about are all African-American so far.) Is caffeine in coffee interchangeable with the caffeine added to soft drinks, colas, Mountain Dew, etc.

Here's what Web MD has to say: "The other wrong way, as a parent, is to allow young children to use it and have it as crutch -- not only for the perk but because it may also displace nutrient-rich beverages for kids," says Frank, who is professor of nutrition at California State University at Long Beach.

Frank says the caffeine in coffee is especially dangerous for young children and teenagers with growing bones because caffeine leaches much-needed calcium from the bones and may retard growth or make the bones weaker.

Five milligrams of calcium is lost for every six ounces of coffee that is consumed, says Frank. But the good news is you can put back some of those lost nutrients by adding two tablespoons of milk to your coffee or making your espresso a latte.

Just wondering.

Serve 'em lattes Diane. Talk them into it. It's for their own good. Don't worry about me, I can handle it.

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