You may recall a blog I posted earlier this month about how drinking one or more caffeinated soft drinks daily increased a patient’s risk of heartburn by about a third.

That was a no-brainer, just like the results of a new study of 20 Chicago-area first-graders released yesterday during the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta recommending that young kids shouldn’t be allowed to drink caffeinated soft drinks during school hours because just a few ounces can make them rowdy and inhibit their concentration. So much so, that one scientist who runs the Smell & Taste Treatment Center here compared the caffeine in soft drinks to nicotine in cigarettes!

Researchers served those first-graders either caffeine-free or caffeinated soft drinks over three weeks and their teachers monitored and rated their behavior (teachers didn’t know what kind of soda their students were drinking). It should come as no surprise to you that those who drank caffeinated soft drinks suffered from behavioral problems. And, just like nicotine, kids generally preferred caffeinated sodas to caffeine-free brands too.

One interesting factoid: Behavioral problems were rated a remarkable 432 percent worse on days when the first-graders consumed caffeinated colas than when they drank caffeine-free soda, researchers said.

If you want to nip your child’s consumption of sugary soft drinks (caffeinated or not) probably the most effective way — apart from eliminating them from his or her diet — is to be a good role model.

Because just one can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories and 30-55 mg of caffeine and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites, I can’t think of any good reason to ever have one. And that’s not taking into account diet soft drinks filled with harmful artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose.

Middletown Journal May 24, 2005