IntroductionIn today’s society caffeine is used daily bymillions of people to help with many things such as improving concentration andalleviating fatigue. According toO’Connor the soda intake amongst children has increased at least twice as muchas compared to 20 years ago with the amount “averaging as much as 20 ounces aday” (O’Connor, 2001). The use of caffeine has exceeded thatof alcohol and nicotine so much that it is now deemed as one of the mostwidespread mood-altering drugs worldwide. Leading caffeine researcher Roland Griffiths, Ph.D.
, of Johns HopkinsUniversity, states “Research has shown that the dose of caffeine deliveredin a single can of soft drink is sufficient to produce mood and behavioraleffects” (O’Connor, 2001). This has therefore triggered an interest in the peak of AttentionDeficit Hyperactivity Disorder, formerly known as ADHD, amongst children. “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) is a brain disorder that is estimated to affect between 5-11 percent ofchildren in the United States” (Berry, 2017).
Due to its common presence children are automatically diagnosed with thisdisorder by doctors, and yet lots of people with ADHD still struggle withmanaging their symptoms.It is mainly children who are unaware of the effectcaffeine has on them. Although JohnsHopkins’ Griffiths believes adults are familiar with the effects of caffeinetherefore ignoring a child’s caffeine consumption due to no life-threateninghealth risks, Marjorie Roth Leon, PhD, of National-Louis University, thinksnot. Based on evidence from researchcaffeine is shown to be effective in increasing attention, noted as one of thedeficits of ADHD. Leon’s aggregateanalysis of numerous empirical studies further helped to support her hypothesisregarding the “effects of caffeine on aspects of cognitive, psychomotor, and emotionalfunctioning among children with ADHD” (O’Connor, 2001).Without considering caffeine ADHD has a fewtreatments, such as behavioral therapy or stimulant medications, that currentlyare used for the disorder. There are anywherebetween 6-9 million prescriptions written for the stimulant medicationMethylphenidate (Ritalin) to treat children with ADHD, yet caffeine could beused as an alternative. Even thoughcaffeine has not been deemed as effective regarding a decrease in problembehaviors linked to ADHD, the stimulant that it does provide has fewer sideeffects when compared to current prescribed medications used for the disorder.
Attention Deficit HyperactiveDisorderCharacteristics of ADHD are said to include thingsconcerning impulsive behavior, motor hyperactivity, and a developmental lack ofattention. Children and adultsidentified with having ADHD tend to display difficulties with control,maintaining attention, and showing appropriate motivation. “In general, ADHD is defined by the presenceof socially disruptive behaviors, either attention based or hyperactive,before the age of seven, which persist for at least six months” (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Caffeine Defined as a central nervous stimulant, caffeine isnow the most commonly used drug based on its high intake rate with over 90percent of adults consuming the stimulant worldwide on a daily basis. With availability now in a liquid and pillform that is distributed in many herbal supplements, caffeine enters our bodiesbased on a diet consisting of coffee, soda, and chocolate as well. It is also noted that when compared tosubjects that receive ample amount of rest, those that are more fatigued tendto display more effects in reference to caffeine consumption according to thestudies conducted by Mulder, Lorist, et al. (Mulder, Kok, Snel, & Lorist, 1994).
Proposed StudyThe present study will examine the correlativeeffects of caffeine on non-medicated ADHD children. Based on the previousresearch, it is hypothesized that if the effects of caffeine on non-medicatedADHD children are mild, then the caffeine helps to minimize the ADHD symptomsin adolescent children.MethodParticipantsThe study will be comprised of two distinct groupsof participants with a group sample size of 6 for a total of 12 participants.
Thegroup will have an equal number of boy and girl participants ages 5-10. The participantswill be randomly selected from a local public advertisement regarding medicallydiagnosed ADHD children. Only those children who have a regular caffeine intakeand who are not currently on any other psychoactive substances will beincluded.Materials and ProcedureA two-part experimental session will be conducted,one being an orientation session and the other actually involving the experimentationprocess.
During the orientation session the children’s parents will be given abrief introduction to the experiment after which they will be given an informedconsent. The night before the experimental session, in which they will receivea call to be reminded, parents will be instructed to not distribute anycaffeine or sugars to the participants. At the beginning of the day uponarrival to the first experimental session the children will receive a feelingschart where they will circle how they are feeling based on the images that theysay. Next, one group of 6 will be given a 5-oz. clear plastic cup filled with orangesoda. The other group of 6 will be given sparkling water with orange foodcoloring. Throughout the day they will be observed based on behaviors shownfrom drinking caffeine.
Various taskswill be assigned in an attempt to monitor their response times. Two days laterthey will return for their second experimental session. Just as in the first experimental session thesame procedure will be followed.
Thoseindividuals that received caffeine from the soda during the first session willnow receive no caffeine and will be given the sparkling water with orange foodcoloring. Participants that receivedsparkling water during the initial experiment would now receive caffeine in theform of the orange soda. As conductedthe first day the same activities will be given and the children’s responsetime will be measured using the feelings chart and tally marks for how theyrespond to different activities. Results After obtaining the given data, a t-test will thenbe used to compute the results. Thet-test is a hypothesis test that is used to compare the means of twopopulations.
Since the standard deviationis unknown and the sample size is small, this further justifies the statisticaluse of the t-test for the experiment.Discussion The purpose of this study is to see if caffeine hadany effects on children with ADHD. Overall, the studies done on caffeine’seffect on ADHD symptoms have been small, and their results inconclusive. Everystudy has shown different results positive and negative. Also, there was notest done to assure that the subjects refrained from caffeine before thesessions. This therefore gives a smallmargin of error and jeopardizes the validity of the results obtained from theexperiment. It is safe to say thatcaffeine does have minimal effects on children with ADHD but not enoughsignificant evidence in regards to whether it could be use as an alternativetreatment method for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
With furthered research and experimentationto gain a more conclusive result, anything is possible.