“Caffeine stunts growth” is just a myth. Right?
In the U.S. adults aged 18–65 drink more coffee than any other caffeinated beverage, including energy drinks, tea and soda. It’s very much a linchpin of the American workday, or any day.
However, there’s been some debate over whether coffee is safe for those under 18, as it’s been rumored to disrupt proper bone growth and development in adolescents.
People say, “don’t drink caffeine, it will stunt your growth.” Good. Bring on the lattes!— Diary of a Tall Girl (@diaryoftallgirl) May 16, 2013
So what’s the verdict?
Well, coffee contains caffeine, and caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. When we overstimulate our central nervous systems, we can experience anxiety, dizziness, and even disrupted sleep.
As you already know, sleep is pivotal to our growth. But could caffeine-induced sleeplessness actually hinder this process? One two-week study in 191 middle schoolers examined sleep patterns and the intake of caffeine-rich foods and drinks. It found that caffeine intake ranged from 0–800 milligrams per day. Higher caffeine intake was linked to reduced or disrupted sleep at night and increased sleepiness during the day.
But that’s where the theory loses traction. To this day, no peer-reviewed published study out there has gone further, implying any relationship between caffeine-induced sleeplessness and stunted growth. According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the theory’s a longshot at best.
Another factor to consider is, suppose coffee did stunt your growth, you’d have to be drinking copious amounts of it and actively growing simultaneously. And for many of us, our growth occurs well before we’re drinking coffee regularly. By the time we’re in our mid- to late-teens, most of us have reached our full height, or close to it, and you can’t “undo” bone growth once it’s already happened.
Also, let’s be honest: you don’t really “need” caffeine until you’re an adult anyway. It’s quite possible this was all an elaborate lie manufactured by all of the parents in the world, desperately trying to keep their kids away from that which they hold so dear.
So there you go, short people: no more blaming your height on all of those Starbucks runs you made sophomore year in high school.