Q. Is it true that drinking coffee with caffeine from the age of 9 on up will stunt a young girl's growth and keep her short?

A. We could find no research to support this old wives tale. The Penn State Young Women’s Health Study found no connection between caffeine intake and height or bone strength (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Oct. 1998). Caffeine has other undesirable effects in children, however, and may weaken bones in older people.

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  1. Sean P.

    R. Schneider,
    It could very well be possible that it was a recessive gene that played a large role in changing your height. Both of your parents could have had a recessive gene that became dominant, as 2 recessive genes being paired, therefore allowing the trait to exert it’s influence, thus making you short.
    My brother and father have been drinking coffee since they were very young (around 4 or 5) and both of them are very tall. All of my family drinks coffee daily. My mother’s side of the family is short, and so am I. I’m currently 14, and am growing relatively rapidly. I am considered pretty short, but have grown 2 or 3 inches in the last few weeks. I am also underweight, but am eating more than anyone I know now. These give me reason to believe that caffeine cannot stunt your growth, and that it’s most likely not caffeine that caused you to be shorter than your family.

  2. Ultor

    I enjoyed coffee starting at age 5. I used to remember that my mom would substitute hot coffee in my cereals instead of milk because I loved it so much. I’m now in my 30’s and my family aren’t usually tall, but I’m the shortest in my family standing at 5″. I think there needs to be more study regarding coffee and growth height.

  3. Qj

    I am a 14 year old girl nd I am 5.10ft. My dad is 6.4ft and my mom is 6.0ft. I have been told that I was probably going to end up being taller than my mom by the time I am fully grown. However I do drink coffee nd I have heard that drinking coffee can stunt your growth. I started drinking coffee in sixth grade and I am currently in the eighth grade. I always make sure that I get plenty of sleep during the night. I am still growing at a constant nd normal pace nd I not even sure if I reached my growth spurt yet, but I’m sure I’ll find out when I do because. I’ll be towering over the other kids at school way more than I do already. Unlike some of the people who posted comments before, I like my height. It’s one of the things that unique about me besides my art and academic skills. I had to add that, im just so happy to say I made into talented art and attend a magnet school. Back to the point though. In conclusion, I don’t think that coffee can stunt your growth.

  4. G.R.

    It is NOT the caffeine that stunts your growth, is is the sleep deprivation. I sleep constantly and am 6ft 2, just turned 13 yesterday. I have a friend who is overburdened with work, and although she rarely takes caffeine, she is less than 5ft tall. growth hormones are released while you sleep, and not sleeping enough reduces the level distributed. Drinking caffeine is actually better than just trying to stay up late without anything because although you are getting less sleep than normal, you still get all the sleep cycles so you are getting a small amount. If you stay up late without anything, you dont get to the stage of sleep where you release the hormones.

  5. Mr. Russ

    I was not allowed to have caffeine when I was younger. My mom would always tell me it would stunt my growth. I had my first Pepsi after I had hit puberty (around 11,12-13 years of age – male). I didn’t drink it regularly until I was about 18-19. My mother is 4’9″ and my dad is 5’2″-3″. I’m 5’7″ and the tallest of the immediate and most of my distant family, taller than 8 siblings by a good 6″ to 3″ range!!
    I will not allow my daughter to drink caffeine (not necessarily because of the possible “growth” issue), but because of the common sense fact that mainly she doesn’t need it – it’s listed as a drug & if I can help by giving her every possibility to grow taller – then I will hold her out from caffeine. BTW: her mom is 5’4″ so hopefully my daughter will surpass me!

  6. Lucy

    That is ridiculous. I am 11 turning 12 and am at LEAST 5’2. I am taller than my teacher, and the tallest in my class. Embrace it, u r very lucky. Caffeine wont change that.

  7. Leland B.

    I wonder if the folks stating that drinking Caffeine stunted their growth are saying it in jest. There is so many variables in your life that to take one particular substance without any other evidence seems very naive. If you do not want someone, say a child to drink caffeine, give them information which is true and not these wise tales.

  8. anonymous

    Well I drank coffee sometimes when I was 12 but not a lot and I haven’t grown at all anymore and I’m almost 18. I’m abnormally short 5″2, its probably genetics thought, caffeine stunting growth hasn’t been proven, there are tall people who have caffeinated coffee daily.

  9. Matt

    I have been drinking coffee since I was 4 or 5. I remember drinking coffee with my oatmeal for breakfast when I was in kindergarten. I didn’t drink it that much as a child maybe a few times a week. Starting in junior high I pretty much drank it everyday with my breakfast. I’m 21 now and I am 5’10”. I’m taller than my dad and my brother who is 23 and who never drank coffee as a child.

  10. duoflea

    That would mean you are almost half a foot shorter than the average height in the world. Also, why would a DENTIST tell you that you’re done growing? Anyone who is considerably taller than you will look down on you in life, physically, and mentally.

  11. Jeff S

    I drank soda from 5 years old and started drinking coffee at around age 11. By the time I was 13 I was 6′.

  12. Joana E.

    What are you talking about!!! I’m 13 and I’m 5’2, BUT I’m one of the shortest in P.E. (the only class we take measurements in) some of the girls are as tall as 5’11! Your height is perfectly normal, not to short, not to tall :)

  13. mark

    I support your theory. Also not so long ago people were a lot shorter and kids drink soda all the time but you don’t see tiny people walking around in the streets. I’m 5ft. 3in., My parents are both 5ft.8in. I’m 13 and I’ve been drinking coffee since I was almost 5 so I turned out fine. Spread the good news about coffee!!!

  14. Joe

    Is being 5’7 and 19 yrs old short?

  15. Brooke

    Yes… I’m also 12 turning 13 in September. Funny coincidence. But I’m 5’2 and a half… but still. I’m taller than all my friends. (although, for the record, they are short.) My mom is 5’8 and my dad 5’7 (haha) but all my dad’s family is short. The dentist took an x-ray of my bones, and told me I was done growing. I sure hope so. I hate being tall. But I’m starting to drink coffee (or soda, whatever works) to make sure. I don’t have problems, I just really don’t like my height!! :)

  16. sil

    Well just so you know there haven’t been any studies that DISPROVE caffeine stunts growth either. Old “wife’s tales” generally have some semblance of credence, otherwise they wouldn’t have formed to begin with.

  17. CJ

    Need I remind all of you that the people of Finland are the biggest coffee drinkers of the world and they are not short people… They start at a very young age and they consume an AVERAGE of 4 cups a day… and not that watered-down stuff you get in the lobby while you’re waiting for your car to be fixed, but some serious black stuff. My grandfather was Finnish and he stood 6’3”… My entire family is over 5’6” and we have ALL consumed coffee since very young. So… in conclusion… I don’t think it matters.

  18. Lady sov

    I am a 16 year old female and I am 5 ft. I have been drinking energy drinks since about 15 although I only started drinking them in excess in the last six months or so. My family is quite short, my mum being 5ft and my dad being 5’7, I don’t whether this has affected my growth because I’m not sure if I’m still growing. I would like to know if cutting caffeine out may make me taller or is the damage already done?

  19. Carlos M.

    I am turning 14 in a week. I am 5’10.” I have tried to avoid it since I was in 5th Grade. I have a dad that is 5’6″ and a mom that is 5’4″. I honestly think that it does affect your height but not significantly. Maybe a couple of inches.

  20. MF

    1 person, or 12 in a population of billions does not constitute a study. That’s not research – it’s an anecdote.

  21. Linda

    Don’t feel bad about your height, 5’4″ is not that tall. I am 5’5″ and could not be a runway model cause I had to be at least 5’9″. So being tall is a good thing, embrace it. Just think: why do women wear high heels, cause they want to be tall. Hope you feel better about your height.

  22. tyler

    I am turning 14 in September I I’m currently about 6’1″. I have been drinking a lot of coffee and soda all my life and I’m still growing. If caffeine does stunt your growth then I’m either immune to it or its not true.:)

  23. John K.

    How will you research this, feed a kid caffiene from age 9? Unethical, a study like this would never be conducted, and thus no research. But we do know that caffeine takes away calcium, so you put two and two together. Also my friend told me he drank soda everyday from a little kid to an adult. He stands at 5’4″, and both his mom and dad are taller than him. How do you explain this? There’s your research.

  24. Liz

    All of these people commenting that caffeine stunted their growth are probably wrong. Plenty of factors can contribute to growth. I have a good friend who is 5’6″ and the shortest person in her family–everyone else is 5’9″ or so and taller–who doesn’t drink coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda-only a little bit of chocolate on occasion. Caffeine definitely didn’t stunt her growth.
    I also know people who live and breathe caffeine who are the same height or taller than the rest of their family. I’m 20 years old and 4’11”, with 1st degree relatives that are 5′, 5’1, 5’2″ tops. I was always short, long before I started consuming caffeine. There are dozens of genetic and environmental factors that affect your height. Correlation is not causation. A short person who drinks coffee isn’t short because they drink coffee; they’re short because they’re short.

  25. carla

    i hate my height…
    im 12 turning 13 this september this year and im already 5’4..
    my mom is 5’2 and my dad is 5’11..
    i heard that coffee stunts growth so now im starting to drink it..

  26. TP

    I’m fifteen years old and 5’9. Some of you may think that’s tall, but compared to my family, not really.
    I started drinking a lot of caffeine when I was around twelve years old, mainly for sports. However, I drank it in very large amounts, as well as in the night time to stay up and finish my homework.
    When I was fourteen I realized I had become addicted. One morning I tried waking up and continue throughout the day without an ounce of caffeine. What happened? I feel tired, my muscles were sore, and I found it very hard to concentrate. Then, I realized that I had stopped growing.
    Now you may say this is a normal part of puberty, but it’s not. Like I said, I’m now fifteen and 5’9, When I had just turned thirteen, I was 5’8. I think caffeine played a significant role in this. That’s why now, I’m off it. Please, I reccomend to all teengagers and adults as well, even if you really truly need it, try to stay off caffeine or consume very little of it. I think caffeine affects your body more than science thinks it does.

  27. asdf

    I started drinking caffeine when i was in 7th grade. I am now a senior in high school and am 6’3″ and currently am the tallest in my family. so if caffeine in fact does stunt growth, then it only stunts growth in kids under the age of about 11.

  28. TSW

    I started drinking coffee in 8th grade through my senior year in high school. I am a 5’8″ female. I think Caffeine stunted my growth because, I have a shoe size of 12, 10.5 in men sizes. My younger sister is 6’0 my foot is bigger than hers. I play basketball and there was a girl on my team who is 6’3″, I wear the same size as her. Plus, I am shorter than both my mother and father. I am full grown at 32 years old.

  29. R. Schneider

    I’m 18 now, a male, 5’9″. I began drinking caffeinated sodas in great excess (1 liter or more a day) when I was 10 or 11. By the time I was 13 I had completely stopped growing. My height isn’t that unusually small, at least, until you compare it to my family. My father is 6’8, my brother 6’10, and all my male cousins are at least 6’4″. My own mother is 5’11. I do believe caffeine played a significant role in stunting my growth.

  30. Crystal T.

    I’m almost 21 years old, and I started drinking my parents’ leftover cold coffee when I was four. As soon as they weren’t looking, I’d clean out the cup. Now that I am no longer growing, I am 5’1″. However, I do have short people in my family, so it could be hereditary, yet I have to wonder. My hip bone and my rib cage have less then an inch between the two. My hip bone starts on what most would assume to be my waist. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to have a few more inches of growth in my torso at least, but maybe I just have a weird bone structure. Who knows?

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