Generations of children in England grew up drinking tea as part of their daily diet. Yet over the past sixty years, the number of children consuming tea has dropped from 55% to a number too small to even be recorded by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, according to the U.K.’s Daily Express. Concerns about caffeine intake caused parents to seek drink alternatives for their kids. However, the change may have actually led to more unhealthy choices.
Dietitian Dr. Carrie Ruxton recently released a review of randomized controlled trials and observational studies related to caffeine consumption in children. Her results, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, suggested that caffeine consumption is not only safe for young people, but a small amount (one or two cups daily) can improve brain power, dexterity, athletic achievement and memory. She noted that tea also has significantly fewer calories than many soft drinks on the market, an important consideration as England, like the U.S., is facing challenges with childhood obesity.
Tea consumption may offer another benefit for children. Dentists have been concerned about the prevalence of cavities and damaged enamel from the acids of fruit juices and carbonated drinks. Tea does not have the same acidity and it is also a source of fluoride which can make teeth stronger.
It is interesting to note that in recent years the reduced tea consumption has also coincided with a climb in intake of soft drinks, energy beverages, and sports drinks. Most energy drinks actually contain more caffeine than tea and too much caffeine in a child’s system can result in trouble sleeping and concentrating.