Modern society is awash with caffeine. And just as in adults, too much caffeine in kids can cause anxiety and edginess, increased heart rate and blood pressure, diarrhoea, headaches, insomnia and poor concentration.Colas and other soft drinks are today the main sources of caffeine in a child's life. Even some ice creams contain caffeine as an unlabelled ingredient.You have to trawl through the websites of these multinational corporations to know the caffeine quantities in their foods. According to the Canadian health authorities, pre-school children should get no more than 45 mg of caffeine a day. That is approximately the amount of caffeine in a can of "Diet" cola. Drinks that promise to deliver a high-energy buzz such as Mountain Dew contain around 54 mg of caffeine per 360 ml. Chocolate is another source of caffeine that slips under the radar. A 45 gm bar of milk chocolate contains around 11 mg of caffeine. Going cold turkey on caffeine has its drawbacks. The child may feel depressed, complain of headaches and be grumpy all day. The right way to lower intake is to eliminate one caffeine-containing item from your child's diet every week. Substitute water, milk and fruit juice for sodas. Initially the child may feel tired: sleep is the best remedy for this. Teach your child the basics of healthy nutrition. Caffeine is a diuretic and actually increases the risk of dehydration on a hot day. RAJIV. M

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