Pushing caffeine on kids is big money for some companies.

Not too long ago, a number of convenience stores had a very small space designated for drinks with extra caffeine. People interested in those types of beverages – mostly teens and young folks in their 20s – knew exactly where to look for them.

The other day I went into a large supermarket and saw three aisles filled with these types of drinks, most of which I was unfamiliar with. I would imagine if a person stocked up on and consumed those types of beverages on a regular basis, they might never have to sleep. And it wasn’t just youngsters and young adults tossing these beverages into their carts. There were a number of people choosing these drinks who had to be in their 40s and 50s.

I understand that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now investigating the safety of added caffeine to various foods and beverages, and especially as it relates to their effects on children. An example is a new product called Alert Energy Gum from Wrigley, which includes as much caffeine as one-half cup of coffee in a single piece.

It’s one thing for adults to choose foods and beverages with increased caffeine content, but I’m not too crazy about these types of products being marketed toward kids. Among the products that have seen increased amounts of caffeine added to them in recent years are candy, nuts, jelly beans, chips and trail mix. Social media strategies have been used to promote these “energy” foods.

How do you feel about foods with extra caffeine being marketed to kids? Is this something that the FDA should be looking at, or should it be strictly the parents’ responsibility to know and approve of what their kids are consuming?


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