Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth?

An adolescent girl with a mug of coffee.

Were you told as a child or young adult not to drink coffee because it would stunt your growth? There are many different opinions about coffee and its effect on different types of growth, so it can be difficult to know what is fact and what is fiction. Does coffee stunt the growth of your bones? Does caffeine stunt your growth or is that an old wives’ tale that has no merit? Here is the truth about caffeine and drinking coffee and how it effects growth and overall health.

Kids and Teens: Does Drinking Coffee Stunt Your Growth?

The old wives’ tale regarding coffee stunting growth in kids or teens is just that – a tale. There is no medical evidence that drinking coffee or any substance with caffeine impacts growth. While studies on the effects of caffeine on children are limited, there has been research on the subject. There is no study that shows a correlation between coffee or caffeine and height or growth in children or teens.

Where did this myth begin? It is believed that an advertising campaign back in the 1930s may have sparked the urban myth that coffee could stunt growth in children. A product called Postum, a coffee alternative, ran ads that specifically stated that coffee could stunt or impact a child’s growth. There was no evidence to support the claim, but it may have begun a long-held belief that caffeine could be unhealthy for growing children.

In the US, there are no official medical or nutritional guidelines regulating caffeine or coffee consumption for children. The FDA does not restrict caffeine use for children and there are no warning labels or restrictions for purchasing caffeinated products. While most pediatricians and doctors agree that giving caffeine to children is not recommended, it is based on other effects besides interference with growth. Caffeine can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can impact overall health.

Bones: Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

There have been many speculations on consuming caffeine and coffee and its effects on bone density or growth. One study suggested a link between osteoporosis and caffeine, but there has never been evidence that coffee or caffeine cause or increase risks of osteoporosis. Some research studies showed that consuming caffeine can increase the elimination of calcium from the body. This is true, but it is a very minimal increase and caffeine intake has not been proven as a risk factor or cause of osteoporosis by itself.

It has been decades since the studies were released linking caffeine to calcium loss. There was serious concern that drinking coffee could increase risks for osteoporosis, a serious bone disorder that can impact health and mobility. However, no evidence was ever produced that coffee or caffeine created a significant risk for osteoporosis. Nutrition, age and genetics are much larger factors on whether a person is at higher risk for lost bone density and osteoporosis.

Caffeine Health Facts

Does coffee stunt your growth or cause other health problems? As far as stunting growth, we know that there is no evidence that kids, teens or adults will experience stunted bone growth or height from caffeine or drinking coffee. While it is not recommended by most doctors for children, it is not restricted from their diet by any federal health guidelines. There is a large amount of interest in whether caffeine impacts health, since most Americans consume caffeine in some form, especially coffee.

So, what do we know about caffeine and its health effects and benefits? Quite a bit is known about coffee and caffeine and the effects on health and the body. Some caffeine health facts include:

  • Caffeine is a stimulant, which activates the central nervous system to increase energy and mental focus.
  • Caffeine in moderate amounts can help protect the liver.
  • Consuming more than 400 mg a day can result in a faster heartrate, anxiety, sleep disorders and tremors.
  • Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that passes the blood-brain barrier.
  • Caffeine is mildly addictive – daily users can experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

While coffee and caffeine may not impact growth or height, they can have many effects on the body. There are many studies that show links to both positive and negative effects for health, but none prove any impact on children or teen growth.

cup of black coffee

Does coffee stunt growth in adults or kids? No, there is not any evidence that kids, teens or adults need to worry about coffee or caffeine impacting bone growth or height. It is important to know how coffee and caffeine can impact your health, especially if you are pregnant or have certain health concerns like cardiovascular disease. If you or your kids drink coffee or consume caffeine, you should know how much is safe for your family’s health. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of using caffeine, both for you and for your kids.