In 1950, according to official records in England, 55% of 4-year-olds drank tea with their meals, while only 10% drank soda or juice. Childhood obesity was so rare that the statistics didn’t even mention it.
By the 1990s, the number of young children drinking tea had dropped to around a third, and today it is less than 2%.
As children’s tea consumption declines, their waistlines have indeed increased. The latest Health Survey for England found that almost one in three children aged 10 to 11 were overweight or obese.
Taking into account that England is a country with a long tradition of tea drinking, the fact that consumption in children has decreased so much shows how eating habits have changed throughout the West.
It’s true that increased consumption of sugary drinks isn’t the only reason for the obesity epidemic, but many experts believe that their popularity is a major contributor to weight problems in both children and adults, which is why some are calling for a health tax to curb sales.
But is tea healthy for children?
Despite the fact that drinking tea with natural sweeteners instead of sugary drinks is a very important measure to prevent obesity, there has always been concern about whether or not it is good for children to drink tea.
Tea was long believed to be unhealthy for young children because:
- The polyphenols that the tea contains bind to iron, thus reducing its absorption in children, which can cause anemia.
- The tannins in tea can stain teeth.
- Caffeine is exciting and is not recommended for children.
However, recent studies such as those of the experts of the Tea Advisory Panel, carried out by doctors Catherine Hood and Carrie Ruxton, conclude that:
- There are many sources of iron and there is no evidence that children who drink up to 2 cups of tea per day have iron absorption problems. On the other hand, if the child has some iron deficiency, then it is important that they do not drink tea or do not do it near meals.
- The tea contains fluoride, which protects the teeth from the formation of cavities.
- The caffeine contained in 2 cups of tea is much less than that contained in soft drinks.
Therefore, they concluded that up to 2 cups of tea per day is safe for children, as long as it is unsweetened or sweetened with Stevia and does not replace the amount of milk the child drinks.
What benefits does tea have on children?
From the above study it appears that drinking tea in moderate amounts has no risk in children, but does it have any benefits? Yes, it has several benefits that have to do with the modification of habits that occurs, for example:
- Drinking naturally sweetened tea is an excellent alternative to soft drinks (carbonated) or artificial juices, which cause overweight as many studies show.
- Tea is 95% water, so it is a natural form of hydration.
- Carbonated drinks and artificial fruit juices are acidic and cause tooth enamel loss. It is a problem that does not exist with tea, which also contains fluoride that fortifies them.
- Herbal infusions such as Hibiscus tea is one of the most appropriate for children since it does not contain caffeine. Plus hibiscus tea has tremendous benefits!
- Other infusions are also appropriate for children suffering from colic (chamomile), cough (mint) or nausea (ginger).
How to prepare tea for children
Your son or daughter may want to drink tea as a way to incorporate into your ritual of making yourself a cup. Or it may be that you want to offer tasty tea instead of soft drinks that predispose to obesity. In both cases, these are some tips that you should keep in mind.
- Prepare green tea with less concentrated Stevia, leaving the tea bag for a few minutes (up to 4) in contact with the water.
- Children should drink the tea much colder than an adult, at room temperature or up to 30°C.
- Iced tea is the best way to provide water in summer, quench thirst and prevent them from drinking carbonated drinks.
- Kids love fruity or colorful teas, like Jamaican or rosehip tea.
- Children’s tea should always be naturally sweetened with Stevia, honey, or other non-artificial sweetener alternatives.